After Matthew Cleveland suffered a hip injury in the win at Notre Dame on Wednesday he will not play on Saturday versus Pittsburgh. The Panthers will be center Jorge Diaz-Graham on Saturday. Cleveland is second on Miami averaging 14.8 points per game and 5.8 rebounds.
This is the second consecutive Saturday the Miami basketball team will be without one of its starting forwards. Norchad Omier missed the Miami loss at Syracuse last Saturday. Omier returned on Wednesday and carried Miami to a 73-62 win at Notre Dame with 33 points and 10 rebounds.
Without Cleveland out Miami will go back to a small lineup. Bensley Joseph is returning to the starting lineup. Kyshawn George will slide to the four with Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar starting in the backcourt with Joseph. Miami was already at a size disadvantage versus Pittsburgh with Cleveland.
Cleveland has been one of Miami's most consistent players this season. Cleveland scored double figures in all but three games in 2023-24. In the loss to Syracuse last week, Cleveland had his first double-double with Miami, scoring 16 points and adding 10 rebounds.
With Cleveland out, 6'10 center Michael Nwoko and 6'8 forward A.J. Casey will move up in the Miami rotation. Casey did not play on Wednesday versus Notre Dame and Nwoko received only five minutes of playing time. Nwoko scored seven points and had five rebounds starting in place of Omier at Syracuse.
Christian Watson has received double-digit minutes in each of the last six games. Watson has only 22 points in that span. Fourteen of those came in the penultimate non-conference game this season versus Stonehill. Jim Larranaga stated on the Miami pregame show that 6'8 freshman Paul Djobet will receive significant minutes versus Pittsburgh.
Miami needs a team effort to make up for the loss of Cleveland. Minutes from the wing players will be critical. Miami needs George, Djobet and Poplar to stay out of foul trouble. Rebounding will be critical versus Pittsburgh. The Panthers have one of the tallest teams in college basketball.