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Miami looks to remain perfect at home against Louisville

miami-looks-to-remain-perfect-at-home-against-louisville

The Miami Hurricanes, who are 9-0 at home, play host to the Louisville Cardinals in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Wednesday night in Coral Gables, Fla.

Miami (11-3, 2-1 ACC) made it to the NCAA Final Four last season.

Louisville, meanwhile, is coming off a 4-28 season. In the program’s rich history — which includes three national championships — the Cardinals had never lost more than 20 games prior to last season.

This season, Louisville appears to be at least somewhat improved (5-9, 0-3). However, the Cardinals will enter Wednesday on a three-game losing streak (by a total of 56 points).

For Miami, the key is the health of three starters suffering from ankle injuries: Wooga Poplar, Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier.

Poplar, who has missed two straight games, is averaging 16.2 points and leads the nation in 3-point percentage (50.0).

Pack is averaging 13.8 points and a team-high 4.1 assists.

Omier leads Miami in scoring (18.1), rebounds (9.1), two-point percentage (67.7) and field-goal percentage (62.3).

Miami coach Jim Larranaga indicated that Poplar and Pack are questionable, but Omier will play.

“Norchad is a different kind of a human being,” Larranaga said. “If you hurt a lion, how does he respond? He gets angry and more aggressive. So, I think Norchad will be fine.”

Larranaga also said Omier is an all-conference-caliber player.

“He’s so valuable,” Larranaga said. “When he went out for two minutes (in Saturday’s 86-82 overtime loss at Wake Forest), they outscored us 10-zip.”

Meanwhile, second-year Louisville coach Kenny Payne brought in nine new players this season, including three key transfers: Illinois’ Skyy Clark, Southern California’s Tre White and Miami’s Danilo Jovanovich.

Clark leads Louisville in scoring (14.9). White is averaging 12.7 points, but he has missed two straight games due to a groin injury.

Jovanovich, who played just two minutes in a redshirt year for Miami last season, has started the two games White has missed. Jovanovich has averaged 3.0 points in those two contests.

Payne said he doesn’t necessarily need Jovanovich to be a star but rather to do things such as play positional defense.

“I need a player who can pass, who understands where to be on the court, spacing,” Payne said. “I need someone who is unselfish and can get tough rebounds. (Jovanovich) can do all those things.

“I just need him to believe in himself and play hard. We trust him, and that’s why we brought him here.”

–Field Level Media

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