No Chris Lykes, No Problem. The Miami Hurricanes (11-9, 3-7) were able to escape with a 71-61 victory last night over the Virginia Tech Hokies.
“I thought we played the best half of basketball [we have played thus far] in the ACC, in the first 20 minutes,” said Coach Jim Larranaga.
The Hurricanes went to the half up 22 points, but ultimately gave up a Hokies rally that cut the score to 63-59.
The Canes were able to withstand the rally despite sloppy play. 93% free throw shooter DJ Vasiljevic missed the front end of a one and one with 52 seconds left. However, Freshman Harlond Beverly stole a VT pass that led to a flagrant foul. Beverly hit both free-throws and added a layup in the final 37 seconds.
Miami was able to stop Virginia Tech’s comeback, and the absence of Lykes was noticed. UM failed to get the ball across the court numerous times with the game on the line, as without Lykes, there is no primary ball-handler.
Lykes continues to be sidelined with a groin injury. Miami’s second leading scorer Kameron McGusty made his return off the bench after missing the UNC game with back spasms. Redshirt senior forward Keith Stone returned to action after missing the past six games with a left knee injury.
McGusty finished with 3 points and 2 rebounds in 22 minutes. Stone went 0-3 and grabbed a board in 9 minutes. Coach L said they were “rusty” in their returns.
Miami had their best defensive night of the ACC period. The Canes held just 2 Hokies to score over double-digits. Virginia Tech scored just 61 points, the least amount of points UM has allowed all season.
Vasiljevic scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Freshmen Beverly and Isaiah Wong made their second consecutive starts and looked like naturals. Beverly finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds on 50% shooting. Wong added with 10 points in 29 minutes.
A very good all-around performance by both,” said Larrañaga about Beverly and Wong’s performances.
Forward Anthony Walker was solid on Tuesday, despite playing less minutes. Walker registered 7 points and 4 rebounds.
Senior Rodney Miller Jr continued his exceptional play. Miller got the job done, scoring 11 points and flirting with a double-double, grabbing 9 rebounds. Forward Sam Waardenburg added to the rebounding total with 6 boards.
Tuesday marked the fourth time this season, including the second in ACC play, that Miami allowed just two double-digit scorers. All four games resulted in wins.
Tyrece Radford had a career-high 24 points and 8 rebounds on 10-13 from the field.
Landers Nolley added 14 and 5 rebounds.
The Hokies came into the Watsco Center committing a nation low 9.7 turnovers per contest. Despite that, the Hurricanes forced V-Tech to 12 turnovers.
The Miami Hurricanes continue to persevere and win games despite inconsistent rotations. For the second time in a row, Beverly and Wong started and were extremely productive in big minutes. Wong played 29 minutes and Beverly 31.
“Even without Lykes they have a number of kids that can score,” said Virginia Tech Head Coach Mike Young.
Miami continues their hard-line path to the NCAA Tournament on the road this Sunday against Pittsburgh. UM defeated Pitt 66-58 On January 12.