Nijel Pack clashes with former team as No. 12 Miami meets Kansas St.

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 19 Nov, 2023 at 03:54 AM

Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Nijel Pack will get a chance to go up against his former team on Sunday when 12th-ranked Miami faces Kansas State in the title game of the Baha Mar Bahamas Hoops Championship in Nassau, Bahamas.

In Friday's opening round, Miami (4-0) beat Georgia 79-68, while the Wildcats (3-1) edged Providence 73-70 in overtime.

Dating back to last season, Kansas State is 6-0 in overtime games.

"We work on that every day. Every single day we work on end-of-game situations," Wildcats coach Jerome Tang said. "We have a drill called five-to-grind, where we work on how we want to play in the last five minutes and what goes into winning those close games."

Meanwhile, Pack, a 6-footer known for his shooting ability, played two seasons at Kansas State and is in his second with Miami. He has shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc in each of his last three seasons.

With the Wildcats, Pack averaged 12.7 points as a freshman, then made the All-Big 12 First Team as a sophomore, averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game.

Pack made his Hurricanes debut in 2022-23, averaging 13.6 points while helping Miami reach the Final Four for the first time in program history. This season, he is averaging 13.0 points and a team-high 5.0 assists.

On Friday, Pack and his four fellow Miami starters each scored in double figures.

"Overall," Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said, "(the win was) a great team effort."

Similar to Miami, K-State is continuously trying to build on an impressive season.

After three straight losing seasons under Bruce Weber, Tang took over last season and led the Wildcats to a 26-10 record and a berth in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas State has the frontcourt to combat the Hurricanes, as Tylor Perry and Cam Carter have been impressive through the Wildcats' first four games of the season. Perry is averaging a team-high 21.5 points per game, while Carter averages 15.5.

Perry had a game-high 24 points against Providence, making all 14 of his free-throw attempts.

Playing alongside Pack will be Wooga Poplar, Miami's leading scorer at 18.8 points per game. Poplar is also averaging 6.0 rebounds while dishing out 1.5 assists per contest.

The Hurricanes have gotten ample contributions from Matthew Cleveland (17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Norchad Omier (14.0, 9.8).

In addition to their meeting with Miami, the Wildcats will also have to concern themselves with Dai Dai Ames' suspension.

With seven seconds left in the game against the Friars, Ames and Providence's Garwey Dual received Flagrant 2 fouls and were ejected for fighting. Dual was the one who initiated the altercation, however, punching Ames in the face.

Ames was the only reserve to score for the Wildcats on Friday, notching 10 points. He is averaging 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds on the season.

Sunday marks the first all-time meeting between Kansas State and the Hurricanes. The Wildcats open up a four-game homestand upon returning home from the Bahamas.

--Field Level Media