CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Trailing Syracuse by 18 with under 21 minutes left and by 14 at the break, the University of Miami men’s basketball team stormed back to defeat Syracuse, 88-87, Wednesday night at the Watsco Center.
The Hurricanes drilled six straight 3-pointers to open the second half, en route to an eighth consecutive victory. Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore paced Miami (12-3, 4-0 ACC) with a season-high 25 points in the comeback win.
“I thought Syracuse played a tremendous first half. I thought they executed their game plan extremely well and we were kind of caught a little passive against their zone,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We were standing around; we weren’t moving the ball very well. It ended up with bad shot selection and they blocked [a lot] of our shots. As the half was closing, we found a little better way to move the ball. So, at halftime, we stuck with that game plan for offense.
“But the key to the game was our defense,” Larrañaga continued. “We started pressing them and pressuring them, and the game got to be very, very fast. We were able to take advantage of some of their miscues, missed shots and turnovers. We scored in the open court before they could get their defense set.”
Syracuse (7-7, 1-2 ACC) used separate 10-0 and 14-2 runs to build a 31-15 lead with 5:53 left on the first-half clock. Miami missed 10 consecutive shots against the Orange’s active 2-3 zone and started just 3-of-10 from 3-point range while conceding a 7-of-11 mark at the other end.
The Orange, who shot 9-of-15 beyond the arc in the half, upped its lead as high as 18, but the Hurricanes scored the final four points before the break and trailed by 14, 44-30, entering the intermission.
Moore led Miami with 13 points and five boards in the first half. At the other end, Syracuse junior center Jesse Edwards logged 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, adding five rebounds and five blocks, the latter already the top single-game total by a Miami foe all season.
After shooting just 4-of-14 from deep in the opening session, the Hurricanes made all six of their long-range attempts in the first 5:09 of the second, sparking a 20-4 surge to go in front by two, 50-48, with 14:51 to play. Including the final 27 seconds of the first half, it was a 24-4 run in 5:36 for Miami.
The Orange retook the lead soon thereafter, but Miami scored nine straight points to go up by eight, 63-55, with 9:51 remaining. Following back-and-forth basketball, Syracuse senior guard Buddy Boeheim scored six points—sandwiched around a Miami basket—in 51 seconds to cut the home team’s lead to two, 69-67, with 4:50 on the clock.
Miami countered with a 7-2 run, capped with a three-point play by sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty, to take a seven-point lead, 76-69, with 2:24 to go.
The Orange hit four 3-pointers in the final 1:18, including three by senior forward Cole Swider, but the Hurricanes never lost the lead. Moore hit a 3-pointer of his own with 61 ticks left to counter Swider’s first long-range make, then Miami went 6-of-8 from the line and got a fast-break dunk from fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller during the last 46 seconds. Swider’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer moved the final margin from four to one.
Moore turned in arguably his finest game as a Hurricane, shooting 8-of-14 from the floor, 6-of-10 from deep and 3-of-4 at the line. The eight made field goals set a season best, while the six made 3-pointers matched his career high. The Chicago native added five rebounds and a co-game-high six assists, while committing just one turnover in nearly 37 minutes of action.
“Well, I thought Charlie Moore was sensational from start to finish. He just needed a helping hand; he got it from Kam McGusty and Isaiah Wong in the second half, and from Jordan Miller,” Larrañaga said. “One of the keys is we had Sam Waardenburg back; Sam had been out [because of] COVID protocols. Him coming back, handling the ball, sharing it and screening and playing good defense was one of the major keys.”
McGusty scored 19 points, including 12 on 5-of-8 shooting in the second half. Wong, meanwhile, posted all 14 of his points in the final 11 minutes and shot 8-of-9 from the stripe.
Miller added 11 points, a co-game-high eight rebounds and a career-best six steals, the most by a Hurricane since Jan. 2, 2016. Waardenburg, who hit the first 3-pointer of the second half, chipped in seven points and five rebounds.
Syracuse junior guard Joseph Girard III led all scorers with 26 points, shooting 8-of-15 from the floor, 7-of-12 beyond the arc and 3-of-4 at the line. Edwards totaled a career-high 22 points on a 10-of-13 clip, adding a co-game-high eight rebounds and a career-best seven blocks.
Swider scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from long range, giving the Orange a trio of 20-point scorers, marking the first time a Miami opponent has achieved that feat since February 1989. No other player reached double figures, as Miami held senior guard Buddy Boeheim, a top-five scorer in the league, to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting before he fouled out.
After shooting just 34.6 percent (12-of-35) overall and 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from 3-point range in the first half, Miami recorded 56.7 percent (17-of-30) and 43.8 percent (7-of-16) ledgers in the second half. The Hurricanes, who finished the game with a 44.6 percent mark (29-of-65), scored 58 points after the break.
The second-half performance helped the Hurricanes counteract blistering long-range shooting from the Orange, who went 17-of-32 (53.1 percent) in that category. Their 17 makes marked the second-most ever by a Miami foe in ACC play.
The Hurricanes also notched 14 steals, tied for their second-most ever in ACC play, and posted an 18-3 advantage in fast-break points.
Its three-game homestand now complete, Miami now hits the road to play second-ranked Duke Saturday at 8 p.m., live on ACC Network from Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Alex Schwartz – Hurricanes Athletics contributed to this column