MBB bolsters legitimacy with Boston College victory, narrow loss to NC State

Junior forward Anthony Walker shoots a 3-pointer during Miami’s win over Boston College on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Cecelia Runner

MBB showing legitimacy with Boston College victory, narrow loss to NC State

The Miami men’s basketball team (14-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)) is in the midst of trying to prove its Elite Eight run last year was not a fluke. So far, the ‘Canes have answered the call as one of the legitimate contenders in the ACC.

After losing its first conference game to Georgia Tech, Miami bounced back with a huge 88-72 victory over Boston College (8-10, 2-5 ACC) on Wednesday. Then, the Hurricanes narrowly fell, 83-81, to a strong NC State team (14-4, 4-3 ACC) in a tough road environment on Saturday afternoon.

If Miami can consistently play like it did against the Eagles and clean up its mistakes against the Wolfpack, an ACC title — as well as a deep NCAA tournament run — is not out of the question. Against Boston College, the Hurricanes dished an astounding 20 assists.

“We really do a good job of sharing the ball. We were terrific on offense. We had a bad night shooting last week, we had a great night shooting tonight,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said after defeating the Eagles.

In the victory over Boston College, Miami put up 18 three-point shots, hitting 12 of them. It was the first time the ‘Canes had shot over 60% from 3 since playing at Virginia Tech on Jan. 26 of 2022.

After the big victory, the Hurricanes took NC State to the brink in overtime before losing by a basket.

“I thought that was a very entertaining college game. Both teams played very hard and, I’d say, very well, for the most part. It comes down to overtime,” Larrañaga said after the loss. “We just had too many turnovers for the game. We only had five assists with 17 turnovers. I would prefer the opposite.”

Against the Wolfpack, Miami’s turnover problems proved to be the difference between the two teams. The Wolfpack scored 23 points off the Hurricanes’ 17 turnovers. On the flip side, Miami created just four NC State turnovers, scoring seven points from them.

Still, the ‘Canes showed heart and didn’t go down easily. Trailing 42-32 at halftime, the Hurricanes closed the gap to force overtime. With 27 seconds left to play and facing a deficit of three, senior Jordan Miller hit a 3 to tie the game, 73-73.

In overtime, the Wolfpack did just enough to pull out the win. On Miami’s last possession, guard Isaiah Wong fell to the floor while driving to the basket. With under half a second to play, the referees called for a jump ball, effectively icing the game as NC State held the possession arrow.

After losing its second game in the conference, Miami is still second in the ACC, behind only Clemson. The ACC is still wide open, especially considering how blue bloods North Carolina, Duke and Virginia have all struggled this season.

North Carolina was the preseason No. 1 team in the country and is now unranked. Duke barely made the Week 10 rankings, checking in at No. 24, and Virginia was defeated by Pittsburgh and Miami on the road.

At this point, there is still an expectation for Miami to compete for the ACC title. With serious talent on every roster, the ‘Canes simply need to win the games they should and compete on the road against the toughest opponents in the conference, which they did Saturday against NC State. If they can continue to do so, Miami has as good a chance as any team in the ACC to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.