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15th-ranked Miami Hurricanes overwhelm LIU 97-49. Omier had double-double by halftime

Norchad Omier soared above the rim and slammed down an alley-oop dunk to give the 15th-ranked Miami Hurricanes a 21-0 lead over Long Island University six minutes into Wednesday night’s game. It was clear right then that the Sharks were overmatched and in for a long evening.

Miami never let up and rolled to a 97-49 win. It was the Hurricanes’ biggest margin of victory since Nov. 11, 2016, when they beat Western Carolina by 49 points.

All 13 players on the UM roster got in the game.

Omier had a double-double by halftime and led the Hurricanes with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 13 rebounds. Matt Cleveland scored 15 points, Wooga Poplar had 14, and Nijel Pack and freshman Kyshawn George added 13 each. George played 20 minutes and 13 was his highest point total this season.

By halftime, Miami was already in front 53-18. Surprisingly, that was not the lowest number of points allowed by a Hurricanes team in the ACC era. That distinction remains with the College of Charleston, which scored just 12 points against UM in 2014.

“We were overwhelmed in the beginning, and it was like a snowball effect,” said LIU coach Rod Strickland, the former NBA player, who spent a season with the Miami Heat. “For a while, I didn’t think they were going to miss a shot. That’s a really, really, really good team. Not surprised. I saw it on television. Kentucky took it to them, but they locked in since then and we got the brunt of that.”

Miami, which improved its record to 7-1, dominated every line in the box score.

The Hurricanes held a 17-3 edge on fastbreak points, 48-24 edge on points in the paint, and 26-10 edge on points off turnovers. Miami shot 57 percent on the night, 42 percent from three-point range, and limited the Sharks to 13 percent shooting from beyond the arc (3-of-23).

UM coach Jim Larranaga said although his team was the heavy favorite, the game was a chance for the Hurricanes to work on some of their deficiencies, especially on the defensive end.

“We’ve spent so much time trying to improve our transition defense and they scored three points in transition, fast breaks, and when we look at the tape we’ll figure out if it really was us, or did they just slow down,” Larranaga said. “But we defended, we rebounded, but yeah, they were a little bit overmatched.”

He went on to say that the Sharks are a guard-oriented team and that was a good test for the Hurricanes.

“Rod Strickland was a great player, his sons (who are on the team) are very good players, we needed to defend their guards, and we did that,” Larranaga said.

Tai Strickland had 14 points, eight in the second half, and Terrell was held scoreless. They combined for eight turnovers.

“We knew coming into this game that we had some things we need to work on, especially in the defense, we made that a huge focus the last few days of practice,” Pack said. “I thought we made improvements (Wednesday). We were able to run back on defense and play really, really great.”

Miami Hurricanes guard Nigel Pack (24) drives on Long Island University center Gezim Bajrami (43) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.
Miami Hurricanes guard Nigel Pack (24) drives on Long Island University center Gezim Bajrami (43) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.

Holding LIU to 3-of-23 shooting from three-point range will help UM’s team defensive stats, and Larranaga said that is important as the team builds its resume.

In addition to George, Miami bench players Michael Nwoko, Christian Watson, and A.J. Casey got significant minutes, which is vital for a team that has relied so much on its starting five. Casey was UM’s second-leading rebounder with seven in 13 minutes.

“I don’t think they realize it, but our success is going to be on how well they play,” Larranaga said of the bench. “The five starters have played very well. The real key is what is our bench going to do?”

Miami Hurricanes guard Kyshawn George (7) dribbles past Long Island University guard Eric Acker (2) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.
Miami Hurricanes guard Kyshawn George (7) dribbles past Long Island University guard Eric Acker (2) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.

Strickland, who spent 17 years in the NBA, took over the LIU program last year and the Sharks went 3-26 in his first season. They are 1-7 so thus far this season, including a 74-59 loss to FIU last Saturday.

Strickland’s two sons, guards Tai and Terrell, are on the team. Tai played for Temple, then played a season as a grad student at Georgia Southern and transferred to LIU last year. Terrell played two seasons at James Madison before transferring.

The Hurricanes head to Brooklyn, New York, this weekend to play against Colorado in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase at the Barclay’s Center. Their next home game is Dec. 16 at noon against LaSalle.