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MBB Falls at Clemson, 66-58

MBB Falls at Clemson, 66-58

by Alex Schwartz

CLEMSON, S.C. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team dropped a 66-58 decision to Clemson Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong scored a game-high 28 points for the Hurricanes, who once again had only six available scholarship players, yet still managed to cut a 12-point second-half deficit down to three, before coming up short.

“I thought our guys played really, really hard and, for a major portion of the game, we were playing really, really well. We executed the plan extremely well,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Unfortunately, the physicality of the game was just a little too much when we tried to drive the ball to the rim. That ended up [leading to] some turnovers, some charges, some steals by Clemson. But you’ve got to give them credit. I thought they played well.”

After Clemson (15-5, 9-5 ACC) scored the first six points, the Hurricanes logged 17 of the next 23, capped with by a 12-2 surge, to take a 19-12 lead with 12:56 on the clock. After making eight of its first 11 shots, though, Miami (7-15, 3-14 ACC) went just 4-of-15 the rest of the half, including 0-of-5 in the last 5:10, and the Tigers took a 34-30 edge into the locker room.

Al-Amir Dawes scored 12 points in the first 12 minutes for Clemson, which shot 5-of-10 (50.0 percent) from 3-point range in the opening half compared to Miami’s 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) clip.

The Tigers went on a 12-2 run, featuring a trio of 3-pointers and a three-point play, midway through the second half to take a game-high 13-point lead, 57-44, with 9:17 to go.

Shortly thereafter, Miami countered with a 10-0 burst to cut its deficit to three, 57-54, with 5:16 on the clock. Clemson, however, answered right back with eight points in a row to go up, 65-54, with just 1:59 to play, putting the game out of reach.

Wong’s 28 points came on 10-of-18 shooting, including a 3-of-6 mark from beyond the arc. He also connected on all five of his free-throw attempts and committed just one turnover in 39 minutes of action.

“I think Isaiah Wong had another great game. I mean, he had half our points,” Larrañaga said. “He is making shots. He is distributing the ball pretty well. He’s playing very hard on defense.”

The only other Hurricane to finish with double digits in the scoring column was sophomore forward Anthony Walker, who logged 13 points. The Baltimore native added a game-best and career-high-tying 10 rebounds to extend his team lead with a fourth double-double this year.

Senior guard Elijah Olaniyi nearly joined him in the double-double category, notching eight points and nine rebounds, the latter mark his second-highest total of the year. Redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty dished out a game-best seven assists, five of which came in the first 11 minutes, to set a new career high.

Senior forward Aamir Simms co-led the Tigers with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a 3-of-4 mark from deep, and played all 40 minutes.

Dawes also scored 19 points, finishing 7-of-9 from the floor and making all four of his 3-point attempts. Junior forward Hunter Tyson added 10 points in Clemson’s victory.

Clemson finished 11-of-22 (50.0 percent) from long range, while Miami shot just 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) on 3-pointers. The Tigers also had a 15-6 edge in points off turnovers and a 21-0 advantage in bench points against the shorthanded Hurricanes.

Miami is back in action in just over 48 hours, as it squares off with No. 15/14 Virginia Monday at 6 p.m., with action set to televised live on ACC Network from John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

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

The 2020-21 Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball season is presented by First National Bank.

– The Hurricanes moved to 13-17 all-time against Clemson, including 3-9 on the road and 7-6 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game with the 11th-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 667-462 in 37 years as a head coach, including 197-128 in 10 seasons at Miami.
– For the fourth time this season and third game in a row, Miami used a starting lineup of McGusty, Olaniyi, Walker, Wong and redshirt senior center Nysier Brooks.
– For the third straight game, Miami played without five of its 11 scholarship players due to injury: sophomore guard Harlond Beverly (back), senior guard Chris Lykes (left ankle), redshirt senior center Rodney Miller Jr. (right knee), freshman guard Earl Timberlake (left shoulder) and redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg (left foot).
– As announced prior to tip-off, Beverly and Lykes have been ruled out for the remainder of the season, joining Miller, Timberlake and Waardenburg.
– Clemson tied for the fifth-most made 3-pointers by a Miami foe this year and became the seventh team to log at least 11.
– Wong registered 21 points in the first 27 minutes of the game, including seven in the first 4:09 alone.
– Wong scored in double figures for the 29th time, including the 19th this season, and logged 20-plus points for the 12th time, including the ninth this season.
– Wong is now tied with Duke’s Matthew Hurt and Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright for the most 20-point performances by an ACC player in 2020-21.
– The only ACC players with four 25-point games this season are Wong and Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, with Wong standing alone as the only player in the league to notch three 28-point showings in 2020-21.
– After scoring 29 points Wednesday the game against No. 11/9 Florida State, Wong has 57 in his last two outings, tied with the aforementioned Wright for the second-most by any ACC player in back-to-back outings this season, behind just Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma (59).
– Brooks played in his 125th game as a collegian.
– Walker, who eclipsed 100 made field goals at Miami, tallied double-digit points for the 12th time, including the 11th this year.
– Walker grabbed double-digit rebounds for the fourth time and notched his fourth double-double, all of which have come this season.
– Walker is now tied for the seventh-most double-doubles by an ACC player this year and is one of just nine players with at least that many.
– McGusty’s prior career high in assists with six, set on 1/18/21 against ninth-ranked Florida State.