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Dec 9, 2023 3:30 am

Cody Williams, Colorado brace for battle vs. No. 15 Miami

Cody Williams, a five-star freshman for Colorado, has upped his game of late.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Gilbert, Ariz., will try to keep it going on Sunday afternoon when the Buffaloes oppose No. 15 Miami in New York. The game is part of the NABC Brooklyn Showcase.

Over his past four contests, Williams is averaging 17.8 points while shooting 68.3 percent from the floor for Colorado (6-2).

“Cody continues to get better every game,” Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said. “We want him to be aggressive and get downhill.”

The Hurricanes (7-1), whose only loss was at then-No. 16 Kentucky, have won back-to-back games, including a 97-49 rout over Long Island on Wednesday. It was Miami’s largest margin of victory in seven years.

“Our defense was stifling,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said.

While that was true, Miami’s challenge will get much stiffer on Sunday.

Colorado’s top two veterans are 6-9, 220-pound forward Tristan da Silva and 6-2 guard KJ Simpson, both preseason All-Pac-12 first-team selections.

Simpson leads Colorado in scoring (19.4 points per game), assists (4.4 per game) and steals (1.4 per game).

da Silva contributes 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 56.2 percent from the floor.

Williams averages 14.0 points, and 6-3 guard Julian Hammond III, Colorado’s sixth man, adds 9.9 points per game.

All four of those players are shooting effectively from 3-point range: Williams at 60.0 percent, Hammond at 48.1 percent, da Silva at 45.5 percent and Simpson at 45.2 percent.

Another Buffaloes player to watch is 6-11, 265-pound center Eddie Lampkin, who played the past three years for TCU. This season, Lampkin is averaging 7.3 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds.

It will be interesting to see Lampkin match up with Miami’s undersized center Norchad Omier, a 6-7, 240-pounder who is averaging 16.1 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds.

Omier is relentless on the boards, and his offensive game is evolving (61.9 percent on 2-point attempts, 40.0 percent from deep). He also has four double-doubles in eight games this season.

Wooga Poplar leads Miami in scoring (16.5 ppg). The 6-5 shooting guard is a great leaper with a smooth pullup jumper. He is making 53.5 percent on 2-point tries and 53.7 percent from 3-point range.

Miami has two other double-figure scorers: 6-7 wing Matthew Cleveland and 6-foot point guard Nijel Pack.

Cleveland, a transfer from Florida State, has made a seamless transition to the Hurricanes, averaging 14.8 points while shooting 73.1 percent on 2-point shots and 42.1 percent from deep.

Pack, who has the deepest shooting range on the team, is averaging 13.5 points while shooting 40.5 percent from long distance. He has shot over 40 percent on 3-pointers in all four years of his career. He also leads Miami in assists (4.1 per game).

Miami’s fifth starter is 6-2 guard Bensley Joseph, who is averaging 9.1 points and a team-high 2.1 steals.

“They are a top-10 (type) program,” Boyle said of the Hurricanes, who went to the Final Four last season. “They have a great coach (Larranaga) and great players.

“It’s going to be a challenge — probably the best team we’ve played to this point.”

–Field Level Media

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