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Hurricanes Take Down UCF, Poplar Sets Another Career Mark

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In a dazzling display of teamwork and sharpshooting, the University of Miami men’s basketball team triumphed 88-72 over the UCF Knights at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida on Friday night. The victory propelled the Hurricanes to a 2-0 record early in the season, with an electrified sold-out crowd witnessing the raising of the Final Four banner to honor the remarkable achievements of the 2022-23 team.

Head coach Jim Larrañaga acknowledged the collaborative effort that fueled the previous season’s success, attributing it not only to the players but also to the university’s unwavering commitment, administration, and faculty.

“It was a magical season and it took a total team effort. When you look, it’s not just our basketball team, it’s the university’s commitment. It’s the administration, it’s the faculty…it takes all that.” – Head Coach Jim Larrañaga

The Hurricanes would showcase their prowess from beyond the arc, knocking down 10 three-pointers for the second time in the week, finishing the game with an impressive 47.6 percent accuracy. Junior Wooga Poplar, leading the team in scoring for the second consecutive game, exhibited a flawless performance, scoring 23 points a new career high, after setting a career high of 21 earlier in the week, on 6-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range.

Norchad Omier, the fourth-year forward, continued his stellar form by recording his second double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The balanced scoring attack also featured standout performances from Nijel Pack, Bensley Joseph, and Matthew Cleveland, all contributing double-digit points to secure the decisive win.

Joseph, in particular, marked a career-high with 15 points, showcasing an all-around game with five rebounds, five steals, five assists, and four blocked shots.

Coach Larrañaga praised the team’s performance, emphasizing the challenge posed by Central Florida and commending his players for a solid effort from start to finish.

“It was a terrific win, I think Central Florida is going to have a heck of a year. They have a lot of speed, quickness and scoring ability. Our guys did a good job from start to finish.” – Head Coach Jim Larrañaga

The game saw the Hurricanes assert their dominance early, connecting on their first three shots to establish an 8-2 lead. The first half featured Poplar’s impeccable 3-point shooting, propelling Miami to a commanding 41-27 lead at halftime.

While UCF made a late-game surge, trimming the lead to eight points, the Hurricanes maintained composure. Omier and Cleveland secured the victory by sinking crucial free throws, with Poplar delivering the final blow with his fifth three-pointer.

Looking ahead, the Hurricanes are scheduled to face the FIU Panthers in a crosstown rivalry game at the Watsco Center on Monday, with the tipoff set for 7:00 p.m. EST.

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