Entering Saturday’s matchup, Miami should have every reason to overlook Louisville.
The Cardinals have stumbled to a 3-21 record this season and have lost 12 of their last 13 games. In the first meeting between the two teams this year, the Hurricanes dominated, defeating Louisville, 80-53.
UM head coach Jim Larrañaga has keyed in on the Hurricanes’ preparation for this game to ensure that a letdown performance doesn’t happen.
“We’re always concerned about mental and emotional preparation,” Larrañaga told reporters on Friday. “I think the physical, mental and emotional side of the game, they kind of go hand-in-hand. If you’re really mentally prepared, you studied your opponent, you really know what you wanna do, and physically you’re well rested and you have a lot of energy, then a lot of times it comes down to the emotional … Some of that has to do with the great crowds we’ve had at home. They’ve cheered us on to victory.”
Miami’s remarkable play at home has been a constant for the team all season.
The Hurricanes played in front of a sold-out crowd in their 22-point win over Duke on Monday. There were also 1,811 students in attendance, which was the third-largest total in program history. With the win, UM improved to 13-0 at home this season.
And with its game against Louisville set to be played at the Watsco Center, Miami will look to showcase its home prowess once again, even if Larrañaga doesn’t want to focus on that aspect of his team’s success.
“I think others have talked about [Miami] being undefeated at home but I’ve never mentioned it,” Larrañaga said. “I look at every game one at a time.”
Despite Louisville’s season-long struggles, head coach Kenny Payne’s squad has shown some signs of life as of late.
The Cardinals have shot 43.5% from the field over their last five games, which is better than their 41.0% season average.
“We played Louisville earlier in the season but I think they’re a much different team now,” Larrañaga said. “They’re playing much better, shooting the ball with much more confidence and I expect it to be a very tough ACC contest.”
Miami (19-5, 10-4 ACC) and Louisville will tip off at 7 p.m.
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