MBB Defeats Wake Forest, 71-54

By Alex Schwartz
HurricaneSports.com

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team picked up its second straight ACC victory with a 71-54 decision against Wake Forest Saturday afternoon.

Junior guard Chris Lykes and freshman guard Isaiah Wong led a balanced scoring attack for the Hurricanes, who never trailed in the contest, with 13 points apiece at the Watsco Center.

“I think the guys are sharing the ball, not turning it over and getting good shots,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said of the even scoring.  “We actually missed some shots we normally make and I was a little bit surprised about that because we played such great offense the last two days in practice.”

After a sluggish start from both sides, Miami (13-12, 5-10 ACC) went on a 14-2 run in 4:03, starting it with six straight points, to take a 28-16 edge with 4:45 left in the opening half. After pushing the advantage as high as 13, it took a 12-point cushion, 37-25, into the locker room.

The Hurricanes, after going 14 straight minutes to open the game without a turnover, committed just one giveaway in the half, marking the second time they have done that in 2019-20.

Miami extended its lead to 17 with 13:06 to go, but then missed eight consecutive shots and Wake Forest (11-14, 4-11 ACC) scored nine straight points in 2:35 to make it 47-39.

The Demon Deacons got no closer the rest of the way and Miami used a late 11-0 run to go ahead by 20, en route to the 17-point triumph.

Redshirt junior guard Kameron McGusty and senior guard Dejan Vasiljevic joined Lykes and Wong in double figures, tallying 11 points each. Redshirt junior center Rodney Miller, Jr., finished just shy of his second-career double-double, notching eight points and a game-best 10 rebounds.

Senior guard Brandon Childress paced all scorers with points for the Demon Deacons, who had just one player in double digits until the final 50 seconds. Freshman forward Ismael Massoud added five to his total in that time to finish with 13.

Wake Forest made just 17 of its first 49 shots before finishing 21-of-54 (38.9 percent) from the floor. The Demon Deacons also committed 14 turnovers to Miami’s eight, while the Hurricanes amassed a 42-33 edge on the glass.

This also marked the second straight ACC game the Hurricanes have won while allowing under 60 points, the first time they have done that since February 2017.

“In order to play great individual and team defense, the very first thing is you need to understand the defensive concepts. For our three freshmen, they didn’t learn those until by the time January rolled around,” Larrañaga said. “But, by then, we had so many injured players, our defense couldn’t be as good and we just didn’t have enough healthy bodies. Now, with everybody healthy and everybody picking up their defensive effort and rebounding effort, we’ve got a chance to be a much better basketball team.”

The Hurricanes, who have won back-to-back ACC games by double figures for the first time since January 2016, will now play the first of three straight road affairs Wednesday at 9 p.m. against Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., live on RSN.

To keep up with the University of Miami men’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesHoops on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The 2019-20 Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball season is presented by First National Bank.

MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES
– The Hurricanes moved to 12-12 all-time against Wake Forest, including 9-2 at home and 7-4 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game with the 10th-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 658-443 in 36 years as a head coach, including 188-109 in nine seasons at Miami.
– For the first time this season, Miami used a starting lineup of Lykes, Miller, Vasiljevic, Wong and redshirt junior forward Keith Stone.
– The Hurricanes, who had the same starting five each of the first 18 games of the year, have used a unique opening group in four consecutive games.
– Saturday marked the first time since 41 days ago, Jan. 4 against then-second-ranked Duke, that Miami had nine available scholarship players.
– Miami is now 13-0 when leading or tied at halftime and 0-12 when trailing through 20 minutes this season.
– This is the seventh time in 2019-20 that Miami has allowed a sub-40 percent field goal clip and it is 6-1 in those games, including 3-1 in ACC action.
– The Hurricanes have won back-to-back ACC games for the first time since closing the 2018-19 regular season with three straight from Feb. 19 to March 3.
– Miami last won back-to-back ACC games by double figures on Jan. 23 and Jan. 25, 2016, when it topped Wake Forest by 14 and then No. 24/20 Duke by 11, after also doing so in its prior game on Jan. 20, when it won at Boston College by 14.
– The last time the Hurricanes won consecutive ACC games by at least 44 combined points was Jan. 23 and Jan. 27, 2013, when they defeated top-ranked Duke by 27 and then Florida State by 24.
– Miami last won back-to-back ACC games while allowing under 60 points on Feb. 20 and Feb. 25, 2017, in an overtime decision at No. 18/19 Virginia (48) and versus No. 10/11 Duke (50).
– The last time the Hurricanes conceded fewer than 60 points in back-to-back ACC outings regardless of the outcome was Feb. 2 and Feb. 6, 2019, in a road loss at third-ranked Virginia (56) and a home win over Notre Dame (47).
– Miami finished the game with just eight turnovers, its third-lowest total in a game this season, including its second-lowest mark in league play.
– The only other time this season Miami committed just one turnover in a half was in the second frame of the season opener, Nov. 5, 2019, against then-fifth-ranked Louisville.
– Wake Forest, which committed four offensive fouls before the break, attempted just two free throws in the opening 20 minutes, its lowest mark in any half this season.
– With two made 3-pointers in the game, Vasiljevic now has 260 in his career, passing Georgia Tech’s Travis Best (258), Georgia Tech’s Anthony Morrow (258), Clemson’s Terrell McIntyre (259) and Pittsburgh/North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson (259) for sole possession of No. 23 on the ACC’s all-time list.
– Additionally, Vasiljevic tied Darius Rice for third place on Miami’s career 3-point makes leaderboard.
– Vasiljevic, who eclipsed both 1,200 points and 1,000 field-goal attempts in his career, notched registered his 62nd double-figure point total.
– Wong, who made his 25th appearance, surpassed 50 rebounds as a Hurricane.
– Saturday marked the seventh straight game Wong has scored double-figure points after not reaching that number once in his first 18 appearances.
– Miller, who moved past 150 rebounds at Miami, tallied his second double-digit rebounding total.
– McGusty, who eclipsed 2,000 minutes played as a collegian, notched his 45th double-figure scoring performance.
– Lykes, who moved past 300 free-throw attempts at in his career, logged his 60th double-digit point total.
– In addition, Lykes passed Malcolm Grant for sole possession of fifth place on Miami’s career ACC-only assists list, now with 135.
– Freshman guard Harlond Beverly made his 25th appearance as a Hurricane.
– Freshman forward Anthony Walker reached 50 rebounds in his young career.
– Redshirt junior forward Sam Waardenburg was a sixth Hurricane to finish with between eight and 13 points, as he totaled nine to go along with seven boards, the second-most of any player.
– Stone reached 50 blocked shots as a collegian.