In a season plagued with frustrations and inconsistencies, the Miami Hurricanes resoundingly responded to an early Notre Dame Fighting Irish punch at the Watsco Center Wednesday night, en route to a highly relieving 62-47 victory.
Vasiljevic: 15 pts, 10 rebounds— Austin Pert (@AustinPert98) February 7, 2019
Lykes: 11 pts
Lawrence: 11 pts, 12 rebounds
Izundu: 14 pts
Johnson: 9 pts
Miami’s (10-12, 2-8 ACC) torturous five game losing streak was put to rest Wednesday night against the Irish (12-11, 2-8 ACC), who are also in the midst of a very challenging season.
But two players in particular helped to put an end to the harrowing skid.
DJ Vasiljevic had his first career double-double, with a game-high 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
“Effort,” said Vasiljevic, made the difference.
“Coach [Larrañaga] told me that my effort and body language wasn’t the point where I can be,” said Vasiljevic, who didn't score in his team’s last game at Virginia on Saturday. “I took that to heart. I cleared my mind, and came out today and showed that the effort and the execution, whatever he [Larrañaga] asked me to do, I did it.
At Virginia [Saturday] he didn’t seem to be himself,” said UM head coach Jim Larrañaga on Vasiljevic. “I had a long talk with him. I could tell yesterday he was in a much better place mentally and emotionally. He was very ready to play tonight.”
Anthony Lawrence joined the Australian with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Ebuka Izundu also had a great night, scoring 14 points. Izundu attacked the Irish’s 2-3 zone well, feasting in the post before Notre Dame abandoned the zone midway through the second half.
Chris Lykes added 11 points, matching Lawrence’s total for the next-leading high.
Zach Johnson’s nine points completed a night UM very much needed, with Larrañaga saying that five men in double-figures would be needed for a win.
The Canes won virtually all of the statistical battles Wednesday, out-rebounding the Irish 39-33, outshooting them 43.5 percent to 31 percent, having eight assists to Notre Dame’s seven and only turning the ball over 10 times to their opponent’s 14.
Unlike the Hurricanes, ND struggled to get nearly as many players sparkling statsheet totals, with only D.J. Harvey and John Mooney in double-figures for the Fighting Irish. Harvey led with a team-high 14 points while Mooney scored 11.
And other than the two leading scorers combined with Jawan Durham’s eight points, no other Irish finished with more than five points. Prentiss Hubb, Lykes’ high school teammate at Gonzaga Prep in Maryland, was held to just three points.
A 13-4 start to the game from Notre Dame in the first 3:40 of the game threatened to send the game in an opposite direction.
However, Miami responded and outscored the Irish the rest of the game 58-34. Notre Dame will likely wish to forget this large swath of action, going 1-24 on three-pointers after the first 3:40 after starting 3-4 in the category.
“I thought we were going to have a really good offensive night,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “We couldn’t get back into a rhythm. I would give Miami’s defense and ball pressure credit. Maybe...they woke up.”
“There was great concern on our side,” said Larrañaga on the early momentum surrendered. “We played good defense. I think overall we defended and we rebounded.”
Miami went into the locker room up 28-23 following a buzzer-beating dunk from Ebuka Izundu. Still, Larrañaga implored his team at the half to keep the intensity on.
“When we played Notre Dame last year, Lonnie Walker made a three-pointer at the buzzer. And [yet], Notre Dame came out and scored the first nine points in the second half [in 2018]. I told the guys at halftime, we did this last year, we can’t relax.”
There would be no second half letdown, as UM scored the first six points after the break en route to a 34-24 second half margin.
A lighter crowd at the Watsco Center witnessed the win, but one fan on the Jumbotron was dressed as the Pope sporting a turnover chain to celebrate the Catholics vs Convicts rivalry.
The Canes will have a couple of days of rest before a trip to Chapel Hill, as the North Carolina Tar Heels await Miami in their next game. UM lost their earlier matchup with UNC on January 19, 85-76.