After two and a half months full of injuries and close losses, Miami got rewarded for weathering the storm on Saturday night as the shorthanded Hurricanes knocked off No. 16 Louisville 78-72, handing the Cardinals their first loss of ACC play. Miami got a career-high 30 points from Isaiah Wong, including 21 in the second half as it withstood a 51-point second half from a Louisville hamstrung by poor 3-point shooting.
The outcome leaves Virginia as the lone ACC team undefeated in conference play at 5-0 after the No. 18 Cavaliers smoked No. 12 Clemson 85-50 on Saturday. It also breathes life into the season for a Miami team (6-6, 2-5 ACC) that suffered three conference losses by a combined five points between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5. The Hurricanes started the season 3-0 and beat Purdue on Dec. 8 before the club's injury woes began to take a toll, leading to a 1-5 start to ACC play that was hardly a reflection of the roster veteran coach Jim Larranaga assembled.
Leading scorer and preseason first-team all-ACC guard Chris Lykes has been out since early December with an ankle injury, while senior guard and steady scorer Kameron McGusty has also missed eight of the last nine games while dealing with a hamstring injury. Sam Waardenburg and Rodney Miller, both of whom were regular starters last season, have also been lost for the season.
With all the attrition, the Hurricanes have turned to Wong to play a central role after he averaged just 7.7 points last season, and the sophomore guard delivered on Saturday. During one stretch of more than seven minutes in the second half, Wong scored 13 of Miami's 15 points as the Hurricanes withstood an urgent effort from Louisville (9-2, 4-1).
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Cardinals, who were led by 25 points from Carlik Jones. Louisville failed to hit a single 3-pointer in the first half as it fell behind 33-21 at the break. In total, the Cardinals finished 3-of-20 from beyond the arc.