North Carolina and Miami enter Monday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference meeting coming off opposite ends of the emotional pendulum.
For Miami, it’s a matter of recovering from a major disappointment. For North Carolina, there’s the quest to carry the good feelings from the weekend into the next assignment.
Miami visits Chapel Hill, N.C., coming off Saturday’s 80-76 overtime loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech.
A few hours later, the Tar Heels conquered Duke 91-87 in another classic matchup between rivals.
North Carolina’s outing was defined by freshman guard Caleb Love’s career-high 25 points.
“He’s going to hear about the five turnovers, there’s no question about it,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “I don’t think Caleb played the best game he can play by any means. He played the best game he has played since he has been at North Carolina.”
The Tar Heels (12-6, 7-4 ACC) had six players with double-figure point totals against the Blue Devils.
“I think it’s always extremely important for us,” Williams said of well-rounded scoring.
So was North Carolina’s sudden success in 3-point shooting.
“Ten-for-15 from the 3-point line is something we’d like to do every night,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes (7-11, 3-10) once again need to regroup. A Virginia Tech 3-pointer at the end of regulation extended the game.
“It’s very deflating losing a game like that,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said.
“We fight together,” Miami senior guard Kameron McGusty said. “You can’t drop your head. We have another game Monday so we have to start preparing for that. That’s just part of playing in the ACC.”
Miami had just seven scholarship players available for Saturday’s game. The Hurricanes used a first-time starting lineup of McGusty, senior Nysier Brooks, senior Elijah Olaniyi, sophomore Isaiah Wong and sophomore forward Anthony Walker.
There could be a different wrinkle if preseason All-ACC guard Chris Lykes, who hasn’t played in two months due to a left ankle injury, returns against the Tar Heels. He practiced late last week.
“He’s definitely dramatically improved from where he was even a week ago,” Larranaga said after Saturday’s game. “And we expect him back very shortly.”
North Carolina forward Sterling Manley, who hasn’t played since March 2019, was in uniform and participated in pregame warm-ups for the Duke game so he’s considered closer to being back from his long injury-related layoff.
The Hurricanes figure they’ve been tested in numerous ways this season. They had a Saturday-to-Monday turnaround a week ago as well, losing at Wake Forest and defeating Duke at home.
“Coach L always has a great game plan for us,” McGusty said. “We just have to be ready to battle because that’s what it’s going to be, a dogfight.”
North Carolina topped Miami 67-65 on Andrew Platek’s winning basket with three seconds left in a Jan. 5 matchup at Coral Gables, Fla.
–Field Level Media