Miami received its first big test of the season in the opener Tuesday, but it didn't work out the way the team hoped as the Hurricanes were easily dismissed by fifth-ranked Louisville 87-74. Now, after opening against a league foe for the first time in program history, the Hurricanes look to get head coach Jim Larranaga his 100th home win as they begin nonconference play Friday night against in-state rival Florida Atlantic.
History is certainly on the Hurricanes' side as they enter the contest with a 23-1 record against the Owls, the most wins against any opponent without multiple losses. But Miami needs to get off to a better start than it did against Louisville, when it shot just 35.3 percent (12-of-34) from the floor before halftime compared with 51.4 percent after, albeit some of that success came late in garbage time after the Cardinals had run out to a 72-40 advantage. "I thought our guys actually played the first 10 minutes like we wanted to," Larranaga said in a press conference afterward, "but the last 10 minutes we turned the ball over and gave them some easy opportunities, which led to the big lead. In the second half, it kind of seesawed back and forth for a little while and we played much better late in the game to cut the lead and make the final score respectable." The Owls, predicted to finish ninth in Conference USA, won their season opener for the second year in a row as they held on to defeat Flagler 92-81 Tuesday, shooting 52.4 percent from the floor, including 42.3 percent from long distance.
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ABOUT FAU (1-0): Three Owls finished in double figures against Flagler, with graduate transfer Cornelius Taylor coming off the bench to lead the way with 20 points in his first game at FAU. Sophomores Karlis Silins and Michael Forrest had 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Madiaw Niang topped the team with nine boards, five on the offensive end, as the Owls found a way to win after watching their 25-point lead cut down to five late in the game. "It was great because we were in a pressure situation," head coach Dusty May told reporters. "Typically, the team that's favored, the team that's at home, the higher-level team tends to get tight and they're afraid to lose, as opposed to making plays to win. I never saw fear in our guys' eyes."
ABOUT MIAMI (0-1): Junior guard Chris Lykes, the second-leading returning scorer in the ACC, notched the 44th double-digit scoring outing of his career against Louisville, hitting 7-of-15 shots for 18 points, while Kameron McGusty scored 12 points in his Miami debut after sitting out last season following his transfer from Oklahoma. Senior guard DJ Vasiljevic (16 points) hit 4-of-7 shots from deep to become the eighth Hurricane with over 200 career 3-pointers and the fourth with over 100 in ACC play. The defense disappointed against Louisville, letting Cardinals shooters hit 54 percent of their shots, with 42 points in the paint and 16 second-chance points.
1. FAU is one of 11 schools, eight in Florida, that the Hurricanes have beat at least 20 times.
2. Miami was handicapped by a short roster of seven players last season, but nine Hurricanes played 12 minutes or more against Louisville.
3. McGusty has now scored more than 600 points in his career, which includes two seasons at Oklahoma.
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