Get to know the Miami Hurricanes - a disrespected, new, ACC power
The fifth-seeded Miami Hurricanes are set to take on the fourth seeded Uconn Huskies for a Final Four matchup in Houston on Saturday night. Saturday will mark the Hurricanes’ first ever Final Four appearance in program history.
Miami is coming off victories over Houston and Texas in Kansas City last weekend to secure a trip to the Final Four. The Hurricanes rallied against Texas in their Elite 8 matchup after trailing by 13 points in the second half.
The star of the comeback was guard Jordan Miller who scored 27 points and was perfect from field goal range (7-7). The guard also recorded 19 points and five rebounds in Miami’s Round of 32 victory against Indiana.
“He’s the most underrated player in the country,” Jim Larranaga said. “He can guard anybody, he's a great shooter, he can rebound, and he’s just a fantastic player.”
Miller isn’t the only Hurricane that’s dangerous at the guard position.
Isaiah Wong has been the leading scorer for Miami this season as he averaged 16.2 points per game. Wong has been a key factor for the Hurricanes' in their NCAA tournament run so far as he scored 27 points against the Hoosiers in the Round of 32, and 20 points against Houston in the Sweet 16.
Sophomore guard Nijel Pack has also been sensational in the tournament so far. In the Sweet 16, Pack hit seven three-pointers and finished the game with 26 points against the Cougars. Pack followed with another strong performance against the Longhorns in the Elite 8 with 15 points and two assists.
The Hurricanes also have depth at the forward position.
Miami’s starting lineup consists of two forwards who are Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar. Poplar scored 16 points and had six rebounds against Texas, and Omier had 12 points and 13 rebounds against Houston.
“Poplar’s trajectory is so high,” Larranaga said. “We always task him with difficult challenges defensively. He doesn't fall for shot fakes, and he denies his man the ball. On offense, he’s been so efficient for us by scoring points and crashing the boards.”
Larranaga also gave his thoughts about Omier after their Elite 8 victory against Texas.
“He’s too important of a player for us not to have on the court in a close game,” Larranaga said. “I knew I had to keep him on the court with four fouls, and thankfully he didn’t foul out and instead came up big on both sides of the ball.”
Miami is a team that excels offensively as it averaged 79.4 points per game and shot 36.8 percent from three-point range this season. The Hurricanes are a very versatile team and anybody can get hot at any given moment. All five starters scored in double figures against Texas on Sunday.
Defensively, Miami likes to put pressure on the guards and play an aggressive man-to-man defense. Expect the Hurricanes to put a lot of pressure on Uconn guards Jordan Hawkins and Tristen Newton on Saturday.
Don’t be surprised to see Miami run the floor and come out fired up as the Hurricanes continue their quest to win a national title.
Follow Ethan on Twitter - @_EthanBurke_
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