Syracuse faces Red-Hot Miami in First Road Game of 2022
After a 74-69 home defeat to Virginia on New Year’s Day, Syracuse looks to bounce back on the road at ACC-leading Miami. WAER’s Kyle Loughran previews how the red-hot Hurricanes match up with the Orange.
Last season, the Miami Hurricanes finished 4-15 in the ACC, but that was last year. This year’s Hurricanes team (11-3, 3-0 ACC) sits atop the ACC standings in the first week of 2022, and Miami enters the Wednesday night matchup with Syracuse (7-6, 1-1 ACC) on a seven game winning streak.
The Hurricanes are led by Kameron McGusty, a sixth-year redshirt senior in his third year in Coral Gables after transferring from Oklahoma and sitting out the 2018-2019 season. McGusty is averaging a career-best 18.3 points per game, up 5 points from a year ago. The Texas native also paces Miami on the glass, pulling down a team-high 6.1 rebounds per contest. He was also named ACC Player of the Week last week after wins over NC State and Wake Forest.
Alongside McGusty, Isaiah Wong is the secondary scoring threat for the Hurricanes. The sophomore from New Jersey is averaging 16.5 points per game, including a season-high 25 point outing to lead Miami past Wake Forest on New Year’s Day. Scoring is nothing new to Wong who led the Canes in scoring with 17.1 points per game in 2020-2021.
Both Wong and McGusty have been efficient scorers this season. The pair both shoot over 50% from the field and are among just eight ACC players to average over 16 points per game through the first half of the season. McGusty has especially improved from three point range, shooting 39.7% from distance after shooting just 32% from beyond the arc last year.
Last season, Miami struggled after senior point guard Chris Lykes played in just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury in December. In the offseason, Lykes transferred to Arkansas, so DePaul transfer Charlie Moore has stepped into the role. Moore is seventh in the ACC with 3.7 assists per game and is eighth in the conference with a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Alongside Moore, junior guard Jordan Miller and sixth-year redshirt senior Sam Waardenberg are dangerous from three-point range. Miller, a George Mason transfer, is shooting 39.4% from distance while Waardenberg, a native of New Zealand, is knocking down 42.3% of his triples after missing the entire 2020-2021 campaign with a foot injury. The depth of scoring options Miami can turn to has made the Hurricanes one of the most potent offenses in the ACC this season.
However, for as much of a threat as Miami poses offensively, the Canes do have weaknesses that the Orange can exploit. Defensively, the Hurricanes are allowing 72.8 points per game which ranks 13th in the ACC, just slightly better than the 74.5 points per game Syracuse is allowing. On top of that, Miami is allowing its opponents to shoot an ACC-worst 45.7% from the field as well as 36.2% from deep which ranks 14th in the conference. Syracuse ranks fourth in the ACC in three-point percentage at 37.6% and should be able to find some good looks from range at the Watsco Center.
Miami has also struggled on the glass which should benefit a Syracuse team that has its own struggles rebounding the basketball in the zone. The Canes rank dead last in the conference with an average rebounding margin of -3.5 rebounds per game. The Orange are 14th at -1.6 boards per game. Miami is also last in the ACC with just 7.4 offensive rebounds per game, so Syracuse should be able to limit the second chance points against on Wednesday night.
Syracuse and Miami get underway on Wednesday at 8 p.m. with WAER’s coverage beginning with GZA Countdown to Tipoff at 7:30 p.m.