CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Isaiah Wong had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Miami beat No. 16 Louisville 78-72 on Saturday night to end an 18-game skid against ranked opponents.
The Hurricanes lost their first four Atlantic Coast Conference games by single digits before an 84-62 blowout at Boston College on Tuesday.
“He is a terrific scorer,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said of Wong. “When he has the ball in his hands, he has a nose for the basket.”
Larranaga said Wong sprained his ankle and received treatment immediately after the game.
Matt Cross scored 16 points and Elijah Olaniyi had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Miami. The previous time the Hurricanes (6-6, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) topped a ranked foe was at No. 9 North Carolina in February of 2018.
“This is a great confidence booster for us, especially coming off our last game,” Olaniyi said. “We didn’t feel we played to the best of our abilities in that game.”
Louisville (9-2, 4-1) rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and got within 68-64 on Matt Slazinski’s three free throws with 2:21 remaining. Cross’ 3-pointer with 1:29 left gave Miami another seven-point margin.
Carlik Jones scored 25 points and Jae’Lyn Withers finished with 18 points for the Cardinals.
“In basketball you can’t turn it on and turn it off,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “I thought (Friday) in Louisville, our practice left a lot to be desired. It was really, really frustrating. I got on the plane with a not-so-good feeling and it manifested itself tonight.”
After allowing 18 3-pointers in a 84-62 loss Tuesday at Boston College, Miami limited Louisville to 3-of-20 from behind the arc. The Cardinals missed their first 11 3-pointers until Withers’ conversion 6:32 into the second half.
“They had some very good open looks from 3 but they missed them,” Larranaga said. “Our defense has been pretty good against teams that don’t shoot 3s.”
Wong’s jumper with 5:29 remaining capped an 18-4 run and gave the Hurricanes their largest lead of the first half at 25-12. Miami led 33-21 at halftime after Cross’ 3-pointer with 12 seconds left.
Louisville: Because of two home postponements, the Cardinals completed a stretch of four-of-five conference road games Saturday. The Cardinals last encountered a similar stretch in 1994-95, when they played in the Metro Conference.
Miami: Senior point guard Chris Lykes missed his 10th consecutive game because of a left ankle injury. Lykes, the Hurricanes leading scorer as a junior and a pre-season second team All-ACC, has been sidelined since Dec. 4. Miami also played without starting guard Kameron McGusty, who is out with a right hamstring injury.
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Miami graduate center Nysier Brooks, who finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, became familiar with Mack during the intense inter-city rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier. Brooks’ freshman and sophomore seasons at Cincinnati coincided with Mack’s final two years guiding the Musketeers.
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In addition to his late 3-pointer, Cross converted two free throws with nine seconds left after Jones’ field goal put the Cardinals again within a four-point deficit.
TIP-INS: Miami shot 49% from the field against a Louisville defense which allowed 38% prior to Saturday. … Four airballs early in the first half forewarned the Cardinals’ struggles. “We started off the game as if we didn’t know how to run our offense and our defense was just as bad,” Mack said.