It’s now or never for the Miami Hurricanes as they enter the ACC Basketball Tournament in Charlotte, NC, needing five straight wins in as many days in order to continue their season, with an at-large NCAA Tournament bid out of the question, and even the NIT in doubt.
Miami (13-17, 5-13 ACC) will look to keep their season alive, taking on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-19, 4-14 ACC) in the matchup between the No. 12 and 13 seeds on Tuesday.
The game serves as a rubber match, with the Hurricanes prevailing over the Deacons at the Watsco Center on January 12, as UM pulled away in the second half to win 76-65 behind a 26 point outing from Chris Lykes.
But it was Wake Forest who had the last laugh, at least in the regular season, in a February 26 come-from-behind win at the Joel Coliseum, 76-75.
Brandon Childress hit the game winning three-pointer for the Deacons on that night, the final shot that fully erased a 14-point UM lead that stood with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.
A common theme throughout the season, Lykes scored another 26 in the loss to again lead all scorers. His over 16 points-per-game leads the Hurricanes, but the guard has also had his share of bumps in the road as well.
In four of his last six games, Lykes has scored less than 15 point, including just four at Duke and eight in the win over Pittsburgh. Also mixed in throughout the season was an eight-point game at Syracuse, and the Florida State matchup in Coral Gables, where he scored just a single point, and failed to make a basket from the field.
If Miami is to get their second win of the season against Wake, the Lykes seen in the other two WF games must be the Lykes that shows up.
Anthony Lawrence will also look to continue his great play of late, coming off four double-doubles in his last five games. The stretch forward did struggle in the first matchup with Wake Forest, only scoring three points while failing to bring down more than two rebounds.
And DJ Vasiljavic, widely considered to be the Canes’ number-one option to make shots from beyond the arc, has made less than 40 percent of his shots from three-point range in five of his last seven games, including games at Boston College, Duke and Virginia Tech without a single made three-pointer.
The winner of this game will live to see another day to take on the fifth-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday at 2 p.m., while the loser is likely done for the season.