Canes Fall 58-43 to Louisville

The story of Miami's disaster of a season in close games continued Saturday afternoon in the Orange Bowl Classic at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise as the Hurricanes blew a golden opportunity for a major non-conference win losing to Louisville, 58-43.

After coming back from 15 points down to take a 39-38 lead on a dunk by Robert Hite with 7:27 to play in the game, the Hurricanes, as they have done in every close game this season, fell apart.

A 17-0 run from that point by No. 10 Louisville turned the game upside down as the Cardinals beat Miami 58-43 in what will go down as probably the most discouraging loss the ‘Canes will experience this season. With five non-conferences losses and no eye-turning win, the ‘Canes chances at the NCAA Tournament may have been crippled unless Miami wins at least 11 or 12 conference games to finish among the top three in the final standings.

Hurricane star shooting guard Guillermo Diaz didn't help matters for his mates, as he looked as hapless as ever. For the second time in his career, Diaz was held to a donut. Diaz did not score a point and missed his only free throw attempt when the ‘Canes had a chance to take a three-point lead with under seven minutes to play.

But what makes this loss more hurtful and heart wrenching than any other the ‘Canes have had this season is the opportunities were there to take over the game.

After Louisville jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the opening minutes of the game behind hot shooting by Juan Palacios, the ‘Canes trailed only 20-13 when they missed a series of shots that could have cut into the lead.

Instead, the Cardinals pushed the lead up to 15 making it 30-15 following a 10-2 run.

Once again, the ‘Canes cut into the lead and trailed by only ten points at the half 34-24.

The run continued into the second half as the ‘Canes defense went into lockdown on Louisville limiting the Cardinals to four points in the first 14 minutes of the half, allowing them to convert only 1 of their 14 shot attempts.

That allowed Miami to take the lead at 39-38, but Miami's ineptitude offensively prevented them from running away from the game.

Gary Hamilton alone missed back-to-back wide open lay ups that cost Miami points. Anthony King did not help matters when he shied away from two wide open 14-footers only to give the ball to Diaz on one possession and Denis Clemente on the other. Both took very bad shots on those possessions.

However, it was Diaz's inability to do anything that cost Miami dearly. Diaz was 0 for 10 from the field, including missing all four of his three-point shots and was 0 for 1 from the free throw line.

Most of his shots weren't close to going down. Many of them appeared to be forced shots by a player who knew he hadn't scored and was desperately trying to help his team. But on a night where Diaz couldn't shoot the ball into the ocean if he was standing on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, he should have looked to be more of a playmaker.

In a game where coach Frank Haith needed his entire team to show up, only Hite and Anthony Harris came to the party as the two guards combined for 25 of Miami's season-low 43 points.

Hite finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, but his outside shot clearly wasn't falling. Instead, Hite did something he hasn't done much of in the past. He attacked the basket constantly and hit all seven of his free throws.

Harris finished with 10 points and five rebounds, but had only two assists; however, the team only had six total in its 13 total field goals.

However, for a team that shot 25% from the field, the ‘Canes at least put up a fight.

But that won't make for a Happy New Year. Once again, the ‘Canes will try to turn it around Monday at home against Sacred Heart in their final non-conference game of the season before playing Maryland on January 7.

Miami (7-6) – Hite 15, Harris 10, King 9, Hamilton 4, Clemente 4, Graham 1.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com

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