Poplar, Omier lead No. 13 Hurricanes to opening 101-60 rout over NJIT
Tue, Nov 7, 2023
NCAAB News (AP)
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Wooga Poplar scored 21 points, Norchad Omier had 20 points and 10 rebounds and No. 13 Miami beat New Jersey Institute of Technology 101-60 in the opener for both teams Monday night.
Poplar shot 8 of 16, including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. The junior guard didn't play the final 12:10 after Miami built a 72-44 lead.
"I've improved on a lot of stuff - ball handling, shooting - just getting more comfortable with new guys on the team," Poplar said.
Coming off their first Final Four appearance, the Hurricanes also had double-figure scoring from Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Cleveland played two years with the Seminoles and made a winning 35-foot shot at the buzzer that beat Miami last February in the Hurricanes' only home loss of the season.
"Just getting to play with the guys, I had a lot of fun out there," Cleveland said. "They make it easy."
Poplar, Omier and guard Nijel Pack are the three Hurricanes' starters returning from last season's team. Pack had nine assists in the opener.
"I thought that was a very good opening night for us," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "A lot of guys played. A lot of guys played well. We shared the ball very well and we scored the ball from three, from two."
The lopsided advantage enabled Larranaga to utilize his reserves extended minutes.
Adam Hess scored 14 points for the Highlanders in the debut of coach Grant Billmeier. NJIT hired Billmeier after he spent eight seasons as an assistant at Maryland and Seton Hall.
"This is definitely not the way I wanted to start it out," Billmeier said. "It's a humbling experience for everyone. My guys are going to continue to be resilient and continue to battle throughout the year. I like the attitude that they showed and will continue to show."
The Highlanders rallied from a 13-point deficit and got to 22-18 on Hess' three free throws with 9:47 remaining in the first half.
Miami never was threatened after a 23-8 spurt in the next 5:32. Consecutive 3-pointers by Bensley Joseph capped the surge and put the Hurricanes ahead 45-26 with 4:05 remaining.
Known for his inside presence, Omier hit two 3-pointers from the top of the key in the first half. Omier attempted 16 threes last season and made five.
"The way he shot the 3 and the way he handled the ball, if he could do that for an entire season, that'd be great. He's a handful," Larranaga said.
NJIT: The Highlanders dropped to 0-4 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams. They also faced Virginia, Boston College and Maryland, when the Terrapins were in the ACC.
Miami: The Hurricanes were ranked among the top 25 preseason for the first time since 2017-18, when they also started at No. 13. The 2017-18 Hurricanes finished 22-10, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against eventual Final Four participant Loyola of Chicago.
NJIT: Opens its home schedule against Saint Peter's on Saturday.
Miami: Will continue its season-starting three-game homestand against Central Florida on Friday. Before the game, the Final Four banner commemorating the Hurricanes' season will be raised.
Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here ___ AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll"