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Canes Hoops Recap: Canes Finish Regular Season With Bang, Defeat Virginia Tech 69-68

“Poise down the stretch” of the game— and this season— give Canes win and chance for a double bye.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Miami
Hurricanes guard Anthony Lawrence II shoots over Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) and forward Chris Clarke (15)
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Lykes and DJ Vasiljavic both echoed it: “Poise down the stretch,” with the latter admitting that they like to “keep it interesting for the fans and make them nervous.” But while the fans sweated it out, the team’s calm approach gave them their third straight win.

One of Lykes’ team-high seven assists was sweet.

Senior day got off to a happy start with each senior getting a spot in the starting lineup, including Mike Robinson and Chris Stowell. Both received a standing ovation from fans as they exited the game after Stowell’s free throw gave himself a spot in the box score.

But the Hokies would go on a 9-0 run to take an early 10-2 lead. Miami didn’t get their first field goal until Lonnie Walker— who scored 12— hit a three-pointer almost five minutes in the game.

After an Anthony Lawrence three-pointer cut to VT lead to one, the Hokies responded with a run to stretch their lead out to 28-18 with 6:14 to go in the half.

The Hokies led 39-32 at the break, after twenty minutes where the Hokies shot 50% from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Canes 20-15. Jim Larranaga told reporters that rebounding is one of his concerns, as the Hokies outrebounded Miami 33-26.

Foul trouble from Ebuka Izundu and Dewan Huell— each with two in the first half— sent Rodney Miller into the game for a short period of time. Miller missed the front end of a one-and-one but recovered by scoring a tough, low post basket that got the crowd back into the game.

Miami began the second half with a quick, monstrous 13-3 run that forced a VT timeout with less than four minutes played after the break and the Hurricanes in front 45-42.

Huell came out very determined,” said Larranaga, “he sat out for sixteen straight minutes [in the first half] because of foul trouble, and came to add a dimension we didn’t have in the first half.” Huell’s foul issues limited him to 19 minutes with just nine points, but eight of those points came in the second half.

A contested jumper with the shot clock waining, followed by back-to-back threes from Vasiljevic stretched the lead to seven with just under seven minutes to play.

Despite playing with four fouls, the Hokies’ Kerry Blackshear hit a three to close the gap to 66-64, which is where the score stood at the under four timeout.

A Chris Clarke basket tied the game at 66. On the next VT possession, Huell took a clutch charge but Lykes was quickly called for a travel on the next possession.

Two Clarke free throws gave VT the lead, but a Walker jump shot tied the game again with 54 seconds left.

Blackshear hoisted up a three-point attempt on the ensuing possession— he missed— but Ahmed Hill got the rebound. Luckily, Bibbs’s next shot went out of bounds with 12 seconds left and the Canes got the ball with the chance to shoot last.

Lykes would drive to the basket and was fouled with three seconds left.

Hokies coach Buzz Williams was not happy about the call that sent Lykes to the line for the winning shot.

“The ACC assigns those officials and supposedly you get fined if you’re negative about them, so I’m not going to say anything.”

After making the first shot, he may have intentionally missed the second with clock management in mind, and Clarke’s desperation three at the buzzer missed as the Canes held on for a thrilling 69-68 win.

With this win locked in, the attention turns to the action in Durham as the result of the Tobacco Road game determining if the Hurricanes earn the double-bye in the ACC Tournament. “We’ll be tuned in,” said Larranaga on tonight’s UNC-Duke game. Canes fans should root for Duke to win so the Miami can earn a top-four seed.

But for today, celebrate this one. Because the Canes won their fourth straight game, won on senior day, and have lots of momentum heading into the bulk of March.