Tonight was the first game without star guard Bruce Brown, who will have surgery on Thursday. DJ Vasiljevic replaced him in the starting lineup.
Another lineup change saw Chris Lykes inserted in the starting lineup at point guard in place of Ja’Quan Newton.
“The best basketball he [Newton] has played is coming in off the bench,” said head coach Jim Larranaga. “Your hopeful that by putting him in that role, he’ll really respond.”
Newton tallied three points on the night, while only logging 15 minutes. Lykes may soon be a regular in the starting lineup, having scored 13 points and leading the team in assists, with five.
The first half started a bit slow but Miami got the shots going in time to take a 15 point lead at the under-four timeout.
After starting 3-of-12, the Hurricanes have hit nine of their last 13 shots. Miami has used a 27-12 run to take a 32-17 advantage with 3:56 remaining in the first half. #PressBoxUM— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) February 1, 2018
However, the offense slumped a bit and the defense gave up a couple of 3-pointers at the end of the 1st half as the Canes went into halftime up only nine.
The sluggishness continued into the 2nd half as Newton was called for a technical foul and Pitt trimmed the Miami lead to 2.
Soon, the Canes alarmingly found themselves down on the scoreboard. Larranaga responded by swiftly changing to a zone defense, which gave the team and the crowd enough energy for the Canes to retake a seven-point lead at the six-minute mark.
“The guys were very active in the zone,” said Larranaga, “We don’t practice the zone very much, we hardly ever play it, but the emergence of Lonnie [Walker] and Sam [Waardenburg] gives us good size in the zone.”
Walker’s defensive effort translated to the offensive end, as the freshman scored a team-high 16 points tonight.
Lonnie Walker IV on a personal 7-0 run to put Miami back in front 50-44 with nine minutes left in the second half. #PressBoxUM— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) February 1, 2018
Momentum was now strongly in the Canes favor, and they rode the wave to the final buzzer en route to a 12 point win.
The Canes will be next in action up in Blacksburg as they play the Virginia Tech Hokies at 2 pm Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.