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Canes Hoops: Second Half Rally Falls Short at Home, Miami Falls Once Again

The Hurricanes couldn't get any closer than three points in the second half after being down 18.

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

A second-half rally for the Miami Hurricanes put some life into the team and the Watsco Center crowd after the game seemed over in the second half. Even without two key contributors, Jim Larrañaga’s players resurrected in the final quarter of the contest. But the North Carolina State Wolfpack still led 83-72 when the clock struck zero, and UM was handed their seventh loss in nine games.

The loss keeps the Canes (11-11, 3-9 ACC) in a tie for last in the ACC. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, they are 8-22 in conference play.

“Our intentions were to take away their big guys inside,” said coach Jim Larrañaga. “They hadn't been shooting the [3-pointer] very well in games leading up to this one and then in the first half they went 6-10 from [3-point range]. That kind of destroys your strategy.

“We fell behind, dug ourselves a hole, but I thought our guys did a great job of battling back.”

NC State led by as much as 18 with under 13 minutes to play before Miami got within as much as three points with the game clock displaying 4:33. However, a 10-4 run by NC State over the next 3:17 would put the Wolfpack in a comfortable position to complete the win.

“We made shots and played a little bit harder,” said Beverly. “When you see shots start going in, everyone just starts feeling a bit better.”

Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they “let up a little bit,” according to Beverly, and couldn't finish the comeback.

For the second consecutive game, Miami was without guards Chris Lykes (groin) and Kameron McGusty (back spasms). The absence was Lykes’ fourth straight, while McGusty missed his third outing in four matchups dating back to Jan. 25 at North Carolina.

Once again, freshmen Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly were placed in the starting lineup.

Beverly’s 20 points were a game career-high for the guard from Detroit, which was the highest for a UM freshman since Lonnie Walker scored 27 at Florida State on Jan. 27 in 2017-18.

DJ Vasiljevic added 18 points on just 3-14 3-point shooting. Wong joined Beverly and Vasiljevic in double-figures with 12 points, while Sam Waardenburg and Anthony Walker’s seven rebounds each led all Hurricanes.

Rodney Miller, who came into the evening averaging 12.2 points per game since Jan. 15, scored just five points while getting banked up.

“Miller hurt his ankle, [Waardenburg] was pretty beat up,” said Larrañaga, leaving Miami to relay on Anthony Walker and Keith Stone in the paint for most of the second half.

On Miami’s freshman: “Those guys are really good...they’re growing up right in front of our eyes,” said NC State coach Kevin Keatts.

The Hurricanes were outshot 50-40% from the field and 41-22% from beyond the arc, but led in multiple non-shooting statistics, including the turnovers (17-14) and total rebounds (40-35).

C.J. Bryce led the ‘Pack with 22 points, also pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds for his forth double-double of the season. Markell Johnson scored 19 points and had 12 assists, good for what was also his fourth double-double this year.

They were two of five NC State players in double-figures, who all combined for 79 points and were the first quintet to all score at least 10 points since UM’s season-opening loss to Louisville.

“Johnson figured out a way to get [the ball] in the paint and make layups. He’s good at that, getting by the defender, shaking and baking and finishing at the rim...I thought they had one of those games where everything went right for them, said Larrañaga.

The loss is seals a season sweep for the Wolfpack over Miami, after beating UM 80-63 on Jan. 15 in Raleigh.

The Hurricanes are next in action on Saturday to take on FSU in Tallahassee at 12 p.m. The game will be televised on ACC Network as UM will attempt to avenge their OT loss at the hands of the ‘Noles on Jan. 18.