CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)Isaiah Wong scored 24 points and No. 22 Miami held on in a frantic finish to beat No. 6 Virginia 66-64 on Tuesday night.
Jordan Miller finished with 11 points while Norchad Omier had 10 for the Hurricanes (12-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who snapped a six-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.
”This means a lot to us,” Wong said. ”Just being part of a Miami team, we’ve been rated as underdogs this season. I feel with this win, it’s going to bring notoriety to our team.”
Miami led 61-51 on a free throw by Wong with 1:56 to play. Virginia (8-2, 1-1) went on an 8-0 run from there. Kihei Clark’s layup with 26 seconds left made it 61-59, and Clark made three free throws with 5 seconds remaining to get the Cavaliers within 65-64, but Virginia couldn’t finish it off and lost its second straight.
”You saw two great teams battling each other, especially at the defensive end of the floor,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Nijel Pack made one of two free throws with 4 seconds left. Reece Beekman had a chance to tie it for Virginia, but he dribbled the ball off his leg and the buzzer sounded as it bounced away.
Ohio University transfer Ben Vander Plas scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, his highest-scoring game for the Cavaliers. Clark had 13 points and Beekman finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Wong had his fourth straight game of 20 or more points. The fourth-year guard had six rebounds, six assists and made 8 of 9 free throws.
”I just come into every game with great energy and just visualize what’s going to happen,” Wong said. ”That’s helped me throughout this year.”
Down by 15 early in the second half, Virginia outscored Miami 14-2 and got within 43-42 on Vander Plas’ 3-pointer with 8:54 remaining.
”I thought we did a really good job fighting and getting back into it,” Vander Plas said. ”We have to continue to make sure we start games the right way and be able to play a full 40 minutes. I think that will put us in a good spot.”
Bensley Joseph hit consecutive 3-pointers and Wong’s four-point play helped Miami open a 26-12 lead in the first 10:45. Wong converted on a fadeaway from behind the arc while being fouled by Taine Murray.
”I’m so proud of our guys, we got off to such a great start,” Larranaga said. ”Second half, they locked us down and we weren’t able to score quite as consistently but the defense was ready for the task.”
Virginia got within 32-26 on Jayden Gardner’s jumper with 1:52 remaining in the first half before the Hurricanes closed the half with four unanswered points.
”We didn’t start well and you don’t want to spot a team that talented a lead that big,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
It was the first regular-season ACC game between AP Top 25 teams since Virginia and Florida State met on Feb. 15, 2021. Including postseason, there had been 221 consecutive games between ACC clubs where one, or neither, team held a spot in the Top 25. The Cavaliers and Hurricanes last played as nationally ranked teams in the semifinals of the ACC tournament on March 11, 2016.
Tuesday’s matchup attracted a season-high 7,257 fans to Miami’s Watsco Center.
Virginia: Bennett remained two victories away from matching Terry Holland for the most in school history. Holland guided the Cavaliers to a 326-176 record during his 16-year tenure that ended in 1990.
Miami: Wong and Pack logged heavy minutes. Wong played 37 minutes while Pack was on court for 36 after sitting the previous game with an illness.
Virginia: Hosts Albany on Dec. 28.
Miami: Hosts Vermont on Dec. 28.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25