Miami basketball pulls away from Central Florida late

Nov 6, 2023; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2023; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami basketball team needed a late 7-0 run to pull away from Central Florida and earn an 88-72 win on Friday night at the Watsco Center. Miami improved to 2-0 with the win. Central Florida is 1-1. The Hurricanes pulled away late, but sloppy play in the second half allowed UCF to pull within six.

The game was sloppy throughout. Central Florida committed 24 fouls and had 18 turnovers. The Miami basketball team had 16 turnovers and was called for 17 fouls. Miami was in the bonus five minutes into the second half. The Hurricanes shot 26-30 from the free throw line to seven of 11 for Central Florida.

Wooga Poplar set a career-high for the second consecutive game with 23 points. All five Miami starters finished in double figures. Norchad Omier had 19 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Bensley Joseph finished with 15 points, five assists, four blocks and five steals in a scintillating all-around performance.

Matthew Cleveland finished with 12 and Nijel Pack 11. Poplar had a nearly Jordan Milleresque performance. Poplar led Miami for the second straight game in scoring, shooting 6-8 from the floor, 5-5 on threes and 6-6 from the free throw line. Miami led 30-16 in the first half before Central Florida rallied.

The Knights rallied to cut the deficit to 32-24. Miami closed the half on a 9-3 run to take a 41-27 lead at halftime. Central Florida pulled within six with six minutes left before Miami outscored the Knights 20-10 to close the game out. Part of the Miami run was a corner three from freshman Kyshawn George who scored five points.

Jaylin Sellers led Central Florida with 22 points and Darius Johnson and Nils Machowski had 13. Miami continued its hot shooting. The Hurricanes shot 51 percent from the floor and made 10 of 21 three-point attempts. Miami held Central Florida to 41.1 percent from the floor and just five for 20 on three-point attempts.

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Miami will return to the Watsco Center on Monday night to host FIU at 7 PM. FIU lost its season opener 85-62 at Central Florida and was defeated 82-65 at home by Tarleton State on Thursday. The Miami schedule gets much harder next weekend when they play Georgia and Kansas State, or Providence in the Bahamas.