Lack of depth dooms Miami basketball in loss to Yale

After building a 56-41 lead 2:23 into the second half the Miami basketball team had their offense almost evaporate for the remainder of the game in a 77-73 loss to Yale at American Airlines Arena.

The loss to Yale was the third in a row for the Miami basketball team by a total of nine points. The Hurricanes game against the Bulldogs was their fifth game in ten days. They will play at Pennsylvania on Tuesdaynight to make it six games in 13 days.

The travel and lack of depth for the Miami basketball team have taken its toll late in games. After taking the 15 point lead the Hurricanes made just seven of their last 29 shots in the game. Miami missed its last five shots in the final three minutes of the game and went two for 16 in the final 10:05.

The Miami basketball team is beginning to mirror the football team. The Hurricanes are in the top 30 nationally in three-point percentage defense, free throws allowed and free throw attempts against. Their offense which was very efficient through the first six games had struggled in three of the last four halves of basketball.

The Hurricanes have essentially gone six deep with Freshmen Deng Gak and Anthony Mack getting limited playing time. Six Hurricanes average 23.3 minutes per game. Gak has played in every game and is averaging 14.6 MPG with Mack averaging 10.0 MPG playing in four of the eight Miami basketball games.

Gak got the first start of his collegiate career against Yale Saturday and five points, three rebounds and two blocked shots. Mack played 12 minutes, missed all three of his shots and was overmatched defensively against Yale’s Miye Oni. Oni was the story of the game.

Oni is a 6’6 200-pound guard with NBA potential. Miami had no answer for him defensively. Oni scored a career-high 29 points on 10-15 from the floor with six rebounds.

The Hurricanes lack a defensive stopper this season as they had with Bruce Brown the last two seasons and Lonnie Walker last year. Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga spoke about his team’s difficulty this season in stopping the opposing team’s best player.

“We couldn’t guard him…We’ve actually had a very hard time in every game guarding the other team’s best player.”

After scoring 49 points in the first half Miami failed to reach even half that with a 24 point second half. All but five of those came in the first 9:07 in the second half. Five points in 10:53 made it nearly impossible to win. Larranaga discussed his team’s mood after the game.

“Our guys are probably frustrated and disappointed with the way they finished the game,” coach Jim We played a very good first half…But we were just not in sync offensively the second half. I wish I knew why.”

Miami did continue to have good balance offensively. Four Hurricanes finished in double figures against Yale. Senior center Ebuka Izundu continued his outstanding season with 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. One more rebound would have been Izundu’s third double-double of the season.

Dejan Vasiljevic came off the bench for the first time this season. The Aussie finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Vasiljevic made four of his 10 three-point attempts. Chris Lykes had 12 and Zach Johnson 11.

Lykes, Johnson and Anthony Lawrence Jr are the first, third and fourth leading scorers on the Miami basketball team. They combined to shoot 12 for 35 from the floor and two for 15 on three-point attempts.

Miami hopes to break their three-game losing streak when they travel to Pennsylvania to play at the iconic Palestra on Tuesday night. It’s Miami’s fourth game in a row against a team from the Northeast and fifth in their last six. Miami defeated another team from Philadelphia at the Wooden legacy, LaSalle.