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Feb 9, 2024 3:47 am

No. 3 North Carolina, Miami seek redemption

Hubert Davis

Atlantic Coast Conference leader North Carolina and struggling Miami both will be seeking bounce-back performances when they clash Saturday afternoon in Coral Gables, Fla.

The third-ranked Tar Heels (18-5, 10-2 ACC) are coming off a rare home loss to Clemson, while the Hurricanes (15-8, 6-6) are facing the prospect of falling under .500 in league play after their embarrassing performance in a 60-38 loss at Virginia on Monday.

North Carolina’s 80-76 defeat to Clemson on Tuesday marked only the second time in 62 meetings that the Tar Heels lost to the Tigers in Chapel Hill. The hosts overcame a 16-point deficits to tie the game at 70-70 but faded down the stretch.

“We just didn’t play well enough,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said postgame. “You really have to compliment Clemson and the way that they played. They’re a really good basketball team and extremely well-coached. They were deserving of winning tonight.”

The Tar Heels had defeated the Tigers 65-55 at Clemson a month earlier and seemingly had their act together after dominating Duke 93-84 last weekend.

However, their lack of preparedness showed when they fell behind 15-2 early. According to the website Inside Carolina, several players showed up late for pregame warmups.

“We got what we deserved,” senior Armando Bacot said. “That wasn’t what we wanted. I wasn’t happy with how we practiced and with some of the things we did.

“I guess that is an emotional thing and a lot of stuff goes into it, but at the end of the day, we have a job to do and have to come in and play. Today we definitely learned that lesson. The hungrier team won.”

The Tar Heels haven’t lost back-to-back games since taking consecutive setbacks against ranked foes UConn and Kentucky in December.

“It’s how you react and how you respond,” Davis said. “We’ll go back to work. As I’ve said before, there (are) two things that you can do: You can whine and complain and point fingers and make excuses, or you can get back up and move forward and join the fight.

“For us, it’s never a choice. It’s a requirement for us to get back up and let’s get back to work.”

Miami, meanwhile, is coming off posting its lowest point total since Dec. 28, 1948 (a 37-35 win over Princeton). The Hurricanes left coach Jim Larranaga nearly speechless.

“They just outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” Larranaga said after the game. “We didn’t play well. They played really well.”

The Hurricanes shot a season-low 28.6 percent and went 2 of 20 from 3-point range. With 11 points and 13 rebounds, Norchad Omier was the only Hurricane to score in double figures.

Omier has posted double-doubles in four of five games since sitting out Miami’s loss at Syracuse due to an ankle injury.

“It’s hard to win without him. He’s such an impact player,” Larranaga said recently. “He scores, he rebounds, he sets screens. He does so many things well that when he’s not on the court we don’t really have someone of his size (6-foot-7) and capability right now.”

–Field Level Media

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