The 25th-ranked Miami Hurricanes would appear to be in store for an easy game on Saturday against St. Francis (Pa.) in Coral Gables, Fla.
After all, the Hurricanes (10-1) are 7-0 at home and have earned their first top-25 ranking since 2018. They also are on a six-game winning streak.
The Red Flash (3-8), meanwhile, are 0-5 on the road.
However, the Hurricanes can’t overlook the presence of Josh Cohen, the 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward for the Red Flash. He’s a fourth-year player from New Jersey.
Cohen is coming off a 40-point effort in a loss at Hawaii last Sunday. Cohen was 16 of 23 from the floor and 8 of 10 on free throws. He also added nine rebounds.
“I’m certainly proud of the way Josh played,” Red Flash coach Rob Kimmel said.
Cohen also scored 40 points in a loss to Lehigh on Nov. 21.
The most recent Red Flash player to reach the 40-point mark at least twice in a season was Hall of Famer Maurice Stokes in 1954-55.
Cohen leads the Red Flash in scoring (21.4) and rebounds (7.7). He is a late bloomer. He grew 10 inches over the final three years of high school and then did not play at all as a collegiate true freshman.
After Cohen, Maxwell Land (12.3 ppg) is St. Francis’ second-leading scorer.
Like St. Francis, Miami is led by a New Jersey native.
For the Hurricanes, it’s Isaiah Wong, a 6-4 guard who won five national and ACC Player of the Week awards after his two most recent games, averaging 29.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds. He shot 63.3 percent from the floor, 58.3 percent on 3-pointers and 92.9 percent on free throws.
Wong’s biggest game last week was against Cornell as he scored a career-high 36 points. It was the most points by a Hurricanes player since Jack McClinton scored 38 on March 21, 2008.
For the season, Wong leads Miami in scoring (16.2), assists (3.9) and steals (1.8). Jordan Miller is second in scoring (15.5) and in rebounds (6.0). Norchad Omier is third in scoring (13.7) and first in rebounds (10.0), and Nijel Pack is Miami’s other double-figure scorer (11.3).
Miller is much improved from last season, when he averaged 10.0 points, and Miami coach Jim Larranaga said it all started with the offseason planning.
“The thing about having a smart player like Jordan is that he provides what your team needs,” Larranaga said. “This season, he wanted to expand his role. I told him: ‘We’re not only going to expand your role, but we need you to be a major force on the offensive end.’
“When he has the ball, we have the utmost confidence he will make great decisions.”
In addition to Miami’s top four scorers, the Hurricanes rely on Wooga Poplar (7.3 points per game) and sixth-man Bensley Joseph (5.7).
“We have a really good ‘starting six’ because Bensely is like a starter,” Larranaga said. “But we need another guy.”
In Miami’s most recent win — 80-73 over North Carolina State last Saturday — reserve guard Harlond Beverly was that guy. He gave Miami a lift with seven points in 16 minutes, making all three of his shots, including a 3-pointer.
–Field Level Media