What you need to know as No. 8 UM men play Notre Dame at home Saturday in ACC opener

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The eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes returned to campus Wednesday with plenty of work to do after losing by 22 points to No. 12 Kentucky in their biggest test of the non-conference season.

It was their first defeat in six games. They have a chance to redeem themselves at noon Saturday at home in their ACC opener against Notre Dame.

Asked what the staff and players learned from the loss at Kentucky, UM associate head coach Bill Courtney said: “A lot of stuff we already knew about our group in that we knew we had to get better at transition defense, and we knew we had to share the ball, those things are monumental keys to our success in any game. And those are two areas that failed us a little on Tuesday.”

The Hurricanes had 15 turnovers and eight assists against Kentucky, which had 26 assists, turned the ball over just eight times, and put 95 points on the scoreboard.

“We gave them 20-plus points in transition,” Courtney said. “It’s nothing we didn’t know, but we just didn’t do a good job and we have to keep improving.”

The Irish are 3-3 and Saturday’s game will present a contrast in styles.

Miami is the second-highest scoring team in the conference at 86.3 points per game while Notre Dame is the lowest at 64. Miami ranks second in the nation with 43.1 percent three-point shooting, while Notre Dame ranks last in the ACC at 28.2 percent.

The Irish will try to control the tempo and slow the game down.

“We have to be patient, especially on the defensive end,” Courtney said. “When we play good defense, that enables us to get out and run, so we have to be patient but also force the tempo.”

Notre Dame’s first-year coach Micah Shrewsberry is quite familiar with the Hurricanes’ personnel and knows what to expect.

“We played Miami [at Penn State] two years ago in the Big Ten/ACC, and we played them when I was at Purdue in the Big Ten/ACC before that. If there was anybody we were going to get, Miami, there is some familiarity with knowing their guys,” Shrewsberry told reporters.

“[Norchad] Omier wasn’t there, but Wooga Poplar was there. Bensley Joseph was there. Matthew Cleveland, I recruited and remember talking to him. I remember him from high school, watching him at Florida State. Nijel Pack, being the Indianapolis kid, seeing him play. Familiar with their players, their system [but] it’s not like I was, ‘Hey, man, let’s play Miami first.’”

For Miami, the biggest challenge will be containing freshman phenom guard Markus Barton, who was named 2023 Mr. Indiana Basketball last spring while at Penn High School. He scored 29 points in his collegiate debut in a win over Niagara and leads the Irish with 16.3 points per game.

“Markus is a high-volume guy, has the ball in his hands all the time,” Courtney said. “Markus makes them go. He’s quick, can drive the lane, score pullups and jump shots. He is their key.”

Miami guard Bensley Joseph, a relentless defender, will be tasked with keeping the ball out of Barton’s hands. Joseph got into early foul trouble against Kentucky and spent most of the first half on the bench. Courtney said a point of emphasis against Notre Dame will be keeping Joseph and Nochad Omier, who has been foul prone, on the court.

Despite the loss to Kentucky, the Hurricanes remained spirited heading into this weekend.

“We’ve done a great job of bouncing back,” Courtney said. “It starts with the kind of kids we have. They want to win. They cheer for each other. We’ve had a very good couple of days of practice, really energetic and locked in. Thursday we had one of our best practices of this year. Amongst the staff we were curious how they would bounce back, but they did it very well.”