The Miami Hurricanes returned to winning ways after two consecutive losses Sunday evening at the Watsco Center, prevailing 66-58 over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Kameron McGusty scored a game-high 19 points and DJ Vasiljevic logged 13 points on three three-point shoots to lead themselves back into the win column. UM got back on their feet after falling in each of their last two games by an average of of 24 points.
The Hurricanes held the advantage in field goal percentage, 53-36%, held Pitt to a conference season-low 19% in three-point shooting and scored 32 points in the paint in the wire-to-wire win.
Sam Waardeburg notched a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with seven points, while Harlond Beverly added six points and five assists.
Chris Lykes fouled out of the game with 8:09 in the second half. He had been brought back onto the floor as a ball hander with Pittsburgh resorting to a 2-3 zone defense midway through the second half, but was forced to leave the contest with 12 points and 4 assists across just 19 minutes.
Larrañaga’s team also committed an ACC season-high 16 turnovers with Lykes away for large sections of the game, leading to 16 Panther points.
And for Pitt, Trey McGowens scored a team-high 18 points, while Terrell Brown had 10 points and Justin Champagnie registered eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Hurricanes drew first blood by scoring the first 16 points of the contest, not allowing Panther points until the 13:48 mark of the first half.
Pitt responded with an extended scoring run of their own, quickly leveling the game at 18 with 9:25 to play in the half, right as the Kansas City Chiefs were competing their victory in the AFC Championship game. Luckily for concerned Canes fans, UM threw the final punch before the break and avoided a late half collapse a la Houston Texans, taking a 31-22 lead into the locker room behind McGusty’s 15 first half points.
But it wouldn't be Miami’s only lead that would decrease. The Hurricanes led by as much as 20 after just six minutes of second half action, only to see the margin trimmed to a nerve-wracking four with just three minutes remaining.
However, a pair of Waardenburg baskets soon put the game out of doubt and the home fans happy.
The Canes’ depth issues among big men became an even bigger concern Sunday. Already with Deng Gak out for the season and Keith Stone absent indefinitely, Rodney Miller entered the contest as the UM’s lone natural low post player, but left the game with just two minutes left until halftime to be treated for an apparent lower body. Miller returned to the game in the second half and finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Miami travels to Raleigh next for Wednesday night’s matchup with the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the PNC Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be regionally televised on Fox Sports Florida. Listeners can also follow along on 560 WQAM. The Hurricanes return to the Watsco Center for a rivalry matchup against Florida State at 1 p.m. Saturday.