Poor starts in each half doomed the Miami basketball team in a 75-72 loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Miami fell behind 15-4 before rallying for a 41-40 halftime lead. North Carolina took its largest lead in the second half at 62-50 with 11:45 left in the game. Miami rallied with a chance to tie on the last possession.
Wooga Poplar was fouled with two seconds left. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the free throw. The ball clearly went out of bounds, but Matthew Cleveland was called for a lane violation. Cleveland was called for entering below the free throw line too early. North Carolina ran out the last two seconds for the win.
Miami also played without Kyshawn George, who suffered an ankle injury on Monday versus Virginia. Norchad Omier and Nijel Pack led the Miami comeback in the first half. Omier scored 16 and Pack 18 as Miami took the halftime lead. Omier and Pack each scored 20 points to lead Miami.
R.J. Davis led North Carolina with 25 points, freshman Elliot Cadeau scored 19, Harrison Ingram had 13 and Armondo Bacot had 10 with 15 rebounds. Poplar was the only other Miami player in double figures with 13. North Carolina was in command throughout the entire game, leading for 32:30.
North Carolina shot 16-24 from the free throw line, while Miami shot 10-13. The difference in the game was North Carolina controlling the opening minutes in each half. Miami has failed to play consistent throughout games too often this season. North Carolina won without a field goal in the last 4:07.
Miami plays at Clemson on Wednesday and Boston College next Saturday before hosting Duke on February 21. Miami's NCAA Tournament hopes are fading after the loss to North Carolina. Miami entered Saturday 72nd in the Net Ratings. After the loss, Miami is 15-9 overall and 6-7 in the ACC.