The Miami basketball team can draw from experience in rebounding from its 95-73 loss at Kentucky on Tuesday night in the inaugural ACC-SEC Challenge. The loss by Miami on Tuesday is comparable to an 88-70 loss to Maryland in 2022 and a 96-64 defeat to Alabama in 2021.
Miami didn’t allow the losses to Maryland and Alabama to turn into more defeats. The Miami basketball team won its next nine games after the 2021 loss to Alabama. Miami capped the winning streak during the 2021-22 season with a 76-74 victory at Duke in January 2022.
The win over Duke allowed Miami to start 4-0 in the ACC during the 2021-22 season. Miami finished 26-11 overall, 14-6 in the ACC and advanced to its first Elite Eight in 2022. Alabama was ranked 10th and ninth in the national polls when they defeated Miami in the fifth-place game of the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational.
Miami lost 76-60 to Dayton in the first round and defeated North Texas 69-63 in the consolation round before the blowout loss to Alabama. Dayton defeated Kansas 74-73 in the semifinals and Belmont 63-61 to win the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational Championship. Miami appeared lost in the loss to Alabama.
The calmness of Jim Larranaga and senior leadership from Kameron McGusty, Charlie Moore and Sam Waardenburg helped Miami significantly after the loss to Alabama in 2021. In 2022 Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong were the senior team leaders. Miami won nine straight following the loss the 2022 loss to Alabama.
How Miami responds to the blowout loss to Kentucky will have a great determination for the rest of the season. Norchad Omier and Nijel Pack have inherited the senior leadership from Miller and Wong. Juniors Bensley Joseph and Wooga Poplar have the longest tenures in the Miami basketball program in their third seasons.
Miami has a big game in its ACC opener against Notre Dame on Saturday. Beginning ACC play immediately after the ACC-SEC Challenge blowout loss to Kentucky should allow Larranaga to have his team’s attention. In the past, teams would begin ACC play a few weeks to a month after the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.
Miami has the immediate opportunity to put the loss to Kentucky behind them. Notre Dame is not the caliber of Kentucky, but the Fighting Irish will be a bigger challenge than playing most mid-major or lower Division I teams would be. Miami will play Colorado on December 10 before resuming ACC play on January 3 versus Clemson.