Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Hurricanes Humiliated in 96-71 Blow Out Loss to North Carolina

Feb 20, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) shoots in front of Miami Hurricanes center Ebuka Izundu (15) guard Davon Reed (5) and forward Anthony Lawrence Jr. (3) during the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. North Carolina won 96-71. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) shoots in front of Miami Hurricanes center Ebuka Izundu (15) guard Davon Reed (5) and forward Anthony Lawrence Jr. (3) during the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. North Carolina won 96-71. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this weekend looking to pick up a monumental victory, but after 40 minutes against Roy Williams and the Tar Heels, this weekend’s result was a monumental defeat.

In a game that was built-up as the battle for the top of the ACC, Miami was no match for North Carolina as the Hurricanes fell 96-71 to an almost flawless Tar Heels squad. The defeat was by far Miami’s worst of the season and the 96 points that they allowed were the most under Jim Larranaga since he took over in Coral Gables.

The Canes kept it close in the first half, but the Tar Heels came storming out of the gate in the second half as they shot the lights out and cruised to an impressive win. Here are my three thoughts on Miami’s performance and what lies ahead for this team:

This loss was bad, but don’t panic Miami fans, this season isn’t over yet.

There is no doubt that this loss to North Carolina was a damaging one, but for all the build-up of this game, Miami still isn’t out of the race for the ACC Regular Season title by any means.

Sure, this game was a chance for the Hurricanes to pick up a signature win and it didn’t happen, but Miami is still just one game behind the Tar Heels and Virginia with the Cavaliers coming to the BankUnited Center on Monday. For how bad this loss was, the Canes could turn their season right around with a win against Virginia.

The scoreline looked real bad today with North Carolina up by 38 at one point and while they were the better team, Miami was clearly resting starters in the second half before that game against Virginia in nearly 48 hours. At the same time, a frustrated North Carolina team who just lost a tight one to their biggest rival Duke, kept their starters in until the final minutes looking to run up the score for an eye-catching win on the resume.

There aren’t many, if any things to take away from the game, but one thing Miami can certainly learn from is the type of intensity and motivation the Tar Heels played with after a frustrating loss. This one will certainly sting for the Hurricanes, but we’ll learn what this team is all about in their next game. They may not beat a tough Virginia team, but I expect the Canes to at least play with an aggression and anger like we haven’t seen this season.

Losing a game that you have such high hopes for is a tough one to take, but no team especially with the type of goals this Miami team has can linger on a loss for too long. There is still plenty of basketball left for this team to play and plenty of opportunities to improve upon an already solid resume.

This loss hurt, but it’s not time to panic just yet Canes fans, this season isn’t over yet.

While we are still waiting to hear a timetable, Ja’Quan Newton’s injury might not have been as damaging as we first expected.

Now we just talked about the need for Miami to pull themselves off the mat and get ready for this final four-game stretch of the regular season and the ACC Conference Tournament, but that task could become extremely difficult without the presence of sophomore point guard Ja’Quan Newton.

Just two days after being cleared by doctors for a medical condition that kept him out of Miami’s game against Virginia Tech, Newton was diagnosed with a “bone bruise on the left shin” according to Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.

The sophomore point guard was driving to the basket with 6:20 and Miami down 86-48 when he stepped on the ankle of North Carolina Theo Pinson and extended his left leg awkwardly causing him to slip and fall to the floor. Newton rolled in agony on the court and was helped off the floor by trainers as he couldn’t put any pressure on his left leg.

Now, if the extent of the injury is just a bone bruise of the shin, there is a chance Newton could return before the end of the season, but as Miami gets to do further evaluations on the guard, the team doctors could learn of a more severe injury. That would not only be devastating for Newton, but for a Hurricanes squad that has hopes of at least making it to the second weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

We certainly can’t anticipate him being back just yet, but after the initial scare of the replay and his pain getting off the court, there’s still a chance this injury might not be as severe as we first thought.

The Hurricanes knew they had keep North Carolina off the glass and they couldn’t do anything about it. That’s troubling.

Before the game, Miami had identified rebounding as the chief concern when facing North Carolina. They had experienced the same trouble last year, players talked about and coaches talked about needing to stop it, yet the Tar Heels had their way on the glass.

Led by Brice Johnson’s 15 rebounds, North Carolina out-rebounded Miami 46-29, including 19 offensive rebounds. Now you can say that the Tar Heels number was inflated due to the amount of missed shots from the Canes, but even when the game was close and Miami was making shots, the Canes were having issues on the boards.

Tonye Jekiri and Kamari Murphy were no match for Johnson, Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks down low and early-on when the game was tight, North Carolina’s second chance points off of offensive rebounds were the difference.

We know that the Hurricanes are never going to clean up the glass on every possession with the current team that they have, but to have so much focus go on one aspect and then for the opposing team to dominate you in that one aspect is concerning.

A lot of college basketball comes down to matchups, but if the Canes meet up with a team in the NCAA Tournament that can attack the glass, they are going to have to find someway to stop or at least limit them if they don’t want to go home early. Of course some parts of rebounding are about size, athleticism, strength and positioning, but a lot also has to do with who wants it more.

A few times it seemed Miami just lost focus or weren’t anticipating as the Tar Heels got to a ton of loose balls and sometimes that just comes down to effort.

The Hurricanes were just flat out bad against North Carolina, that’s all you can say, but now it’s all about how this team responds. That begins Monday against Virginia at the BankUnited Center.