Nijel Pack initially shrugged off the Miami Hurricanes’ 91-83 win over Kansas State in the Bahamas on Sunday as just another victory; but when pressed, he conceded that scoring a team-high 28 points against his former team made the win a bit more fun.
Pack made seven three pointers, scored 20 first-half points, and was named MVP of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahama championship. The 28 points were the most for Pack since he transferred to UM from K-State before last season.
“Obviously, it was a lot of fun, felt like a road game, they had a lot of energy, we knew how good a team they were,” Pack said. “Who doesn’t love playing games like that, in the Bahamas, getting to play against your old school. It was so much for me.”
“I think everyone knows that Nijel was probably extremely well motivated because he had been a player for the Kansas State Wildcats for two years,” said UM coach Jim Larranaga. “He was on fire in the first half and terrific in the second half.”
Pack averaged 15.3 points in two seasons with Kansas State, and last season was a key player on UM’s Final Four team.
“He was always a really good player, I thought we did a better job on him in the second half, but first half he was pretty special,” Wildcats coach Jerome Tang said of Pack.
Norchad Omier scored 23 for the 12th-ranked Hurricanes (5-0), including eight of Miami’s final 10 points after Kansas State cut UM’s 22-point second-half lead to single digits. Omier went 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Wooga Poplar and Matt Cleveland each scored 15 for UM.
Larranaga said guard Bensley Joseph’s defense on Tyler Perry was the key to Miami’s win. Perry was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and was 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Joseph also had seven assists for the Canes.
“There’s an expression coaches use in basketball `Don’t let the best player beat you’ and in Tyler Perry, they’ve got a great player who can beat you in many different ways and Bensley Joseph prevented that,” Larranaga said.
Cam Carter led Kansas State (3-2) with 28 points, 24 of them in the second half.
Miami’s 5-0 start is the team’s best since 2018. The Hurricanes are off until Nov. 28, when they play Kentucky on the road in the ACC-SEC Challenge.