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Miami Rebounds with a Win Against Notre Dame on the Road, but the March Madness Path Remains Uncertain

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The University of Miami men’s basketball team secured its second ACC road victory of the season by defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a final score of 73-61 on Wednesday night at Joyce Center in Indiana.

Head coach Jim Larrañaga shared his thoughts on the game, acknowledging the team’s solid and complete first-half performance. However, he expressed concern about letting Notre Dame regain control in the second half. Despite the challenges, the Hurricanes managed to pull through, and Larrañaga commended the team’s hard work to regain momentum after losing four of their last five games before their matchup with the Fighting Irish.

Norchad Omier, who missed the previous game against Syracuse due to an injury, delivered an outstanding performance, scoring a season-high 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. This marked Omier’s highest single-game point total as a Hurricane and his ninth double-double of the 2023-2024 season. Larrañaga praised Omier as a warrior, highlighting his incredible rebounding skills and versatility on the court.

Omier’s impressive performance included making 12 of 14 shots, featuring six dunks and two 3-pointers. Additionally, he demonstrated accuracy from the free-throw line, making 7 of 9 attempts. This outstanding display made Omier the first Hurricane to score 30-plus points in a game since Isaiah Wong’s 36-point game in December 2022. Moreover, Omier became the first Miami player to achieve a 30-point outing on the road since Sheldon McClellan in 2014.

Joining Omier in double-digit scoring for Miami were Kyshawn George with 11 points, Nijel Pack with 10, and Bensley Joseph with 10. Notre Dame’s Markus Burton scored 15 points, and Konieczny added 13. Braeden Shrewsberry finished with 10 points. Burton’s efforts, including scoring eight straight points to bring the Fighting Irish within 26-24 with seven minutes left in the first half, were noteworthy.

However, Omier responded with three consecutive dunks for the Canes, and Miami closed the first half with an 11-5 run, establishing a 37-29 lead. Omier’s first-half performance was particularly impressive, making 8 of 10 field goals and scoring 20 points.

Defensively, the Hurricanes limited Notre Dame to a 29 percent shooting effort in the first half, allowing Miami to take a 37-29 lead into halftime. The momentum would shift briefly from there; the Fighting Irish posed a challenge in the second half, opening with an 11-2 run and taking a one-point lead with 15 minutes remaining. However, Omier showcased his dominance by scoring eight of Miami’s first 10 points in the second half. Despite Notre Dame briefly taking the lead at 52-49 on a 3-pointer by J.R. Konieczny with over nine minutes remaining in regulation, the Fighting Irish would make only three baskets in those final nine minutes.

Wooga Poplar’s 3-pointer at the 7:47 mark provided the Hurricanes with a lead they maintained for the rest of the game. A decisive 17-2 run extended Miami’s lead to nine with 3:42 remaining, and Kyshawn George’s contributions in the final five minutes sealed the victory for the Hurricanes.

Looking ahead, Miami will return home to the Watsco Center to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. EST tipoff and will be broadcast on The CW Network. Larrañaga and the Hurricanes aim to build off their win and continue making strides in the ACC as March approaches.

The road to getting into the tournament will not be an easy walk in the park. According to revered ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, currently, the Canes are on the outside looking in for March Madness, as Miami is nowhere to be found in the projected NCAA Tournament bracket. With 12 games remaining and an ACC Tournament to follow, every game is crucial for the Hurricanes moving forward.

You can find the projected bracket from Lunardi here: https://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/bracketology/ncaa-bracketology-2024-march-madness-men-field-predictions

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