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Canes Hoops: Miami Goes on Large First Half Run to Return to Win Column

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A strong first half and a late game run created plenty of much-needed breathing room for Miami in their win over Boston College.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes were in dire need of a night with the lineup (mostly) intact, momentum before the falling too far behind in the game, and the ability to use that momentum to play a complete game all the way to the finish line.

UM got that on Wednesday night in front of its home Watsco Center crowd, outscoring the Boston College Eagles 24-2 over a nine minute stretch in the first half on their way to a 85-58 win.

“I’m very proud of our guys,” said coach Jim Larrañaga after the game. “We've got to rebound better and we've got to get more assists and share the ball better. Maybe I could've sent that message to them earlier in the season, and made it would've worked, but it certainly was well executed tonight. It’s about as good of a 40 minutes we've played all season long.”

The win allows the Hurricanes (12-12, 4-10 ACC) to stay above last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“All four of their guards can score, all four of them can get in the lane, all four of them can get to the line,” said Boston College head coach Jim Christian.

Lykes and McGusty continued their integration back into the lineup after returning to action in Saturday’s game at Florida State. Larrañaga’s hope for a fully healthy roster however, took a hit with the surprise absence of Sam Waardenburg (jaw).

“We had a full team for the first time since the Clemson game (on Dec. 31) yesterday at 2 o’clock. And then at 4 o’clock we lost Waardenburg,” said Larrañaga, who described Waardenburg’s injury by saying that his “head went back [and] tightened up” after getting hit in the jaw.

This forced Larrañaga to start a set of five guys who had never all been in a game at the same time together.

Isaiah Wong led Miami with a game-high 21 points, his second game in a row as the team’s leading scorer (both 20+ points) and his fifth matchup in succession with at least 10 points.

“I was impressed with our whole team. Isaiah has just been doing what he can do. Which is he can really score the ball and he plays very hard on defense,” said Larrañaga.

“My mentality is to just play efficient, try to make the best plays possible for the team and try to get a win,” said Wong.

Chris Lykes added 16 points in his first full game back from injury, while Kameron McGusty registered 12. Rodney Miller also had a team-high seven rebounds along with 11 points.

UM shot 58% on field goal attempts, their highest mark in ACC play and their best overall output since Dec. 2 at Illinois, while holding Boston College to just 21% shooting from beyond the arc.

Kamari Williams’ 14 points led the Eagles, while Jay Heath and Nik Popovic added 10 each.

Miami took their first lead of the contest after a Wong 3-pointer put UM ahead 17-15 at the 10:24 mark. It was part of a 17-0 run for the Canes that lasted until there was 5:51 remaining until half. After leading by as much as 21, Boston College went on a 6-0 run before the break to cut the margin to 38-23 in favor of the home team.

McGusty and Wong led the way with nine points each in the first 20 minutes.

The Eagles cut the deficit farther in the second half to as little as 12. With BC in the bonus and going to the full court press in the middle of the half, a small amount of tension filled the arena as Miami was forced to make tough passes and knock down free throws late in the contest. However, 4-10 3-point shooting after the break put the Canes up by as much as 29 in the closing minute, setting up their first win since Jan. 28.

UM stays at home this weekend for a game against Wake Forest, with tipoff set for 2 p.m. Saturday. The matchup will be televised from the Watsco Center on Fox Sports Florida.