With the game on the line, Wake Forest guard Ishmael Smith had a chance to hit a game-winning shot. Luckily for him, he was used to the pressure.
Smith, who hit a similar shot to beat Virginia Tech earlier this season, made a jumper with 2.6 seconds left to lead Wake Forest to a 70-68 victory over Miami Tuesday night.
Jack McClinton led Miami in scoring with 16 points, while Jeff Teague paced Wake Forest with a career-high 26 points.
Coming off a hard-fought win against Clemson two days prior, the Hurricanes (15-5, 2-4 ACC) traveled to Winston-Salem to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Wake Forest (13-6, 3-3 ACC), who has been winless on the road this season, was on a 15-game home winning streak going into the game.
The Canes opened the game with a great start, going on an 8-0 run to take a seven-point lead with 10 minutes left. But the Demon Deacons responded with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the score at 17.
McClinton was very effective in the first half and seemed to flourish against Wake Forest’s man-to-man coverage. He made four three-pointers, missing only one shot en route to an early 14 points. However, most of his shots were answered by Wake Forest, with Teague and Jamie Skeen each hitting two three-pointers. At halftime, the score was tied at 34.
In the second half, Wake Forest took the lead, thanks to a 10-0 run. Teague, in particular, exploded after halftime. He scored nine straight points, which was marked by a thunderous one-handed dunk from the 6-foot-2-inch freshman.
However, Miami refused to quit. Down by seven points with four minutes remaining, the Hurricanes went on an 8-1 run to tie the game at 68. The run was capped by a layup from McClinton, which served as his only two points in the second half. After a Wake Forest miss, Miami got the ball down low to Dwayne Collins, who missed from underneath the basket. Wake Forest got the ball back, which set up the game-winning basket by Smith. With only two seconds left to score, McClinton’s 3-point attempt was stripped by Harvey Hale at the buzzer.
“In the second half, it was just a dogfight,” said Miami Head Coach Frank Haith. “I thought Dwayne Collins had a play there to win the game, but he missed the layup. It shouldn’t have come down to that.”
Teague played an excellent game for Wake Forest on the offensive end. Despite averaging a mere 28 percent from behind the 3-point arc, Teague shot an impressive 5-of-6 against Miami.
The game was a tale of two halves for the Canes, who weren’t as effective defensively in the second half. They gave up a lot of open jumpers to the Demon Deacons, who shot 10-for-19 from three-point range. Another big problem for Miami was free-throw shooting. The Canes struggled at the charity stripe, shooting a poor 5-for-10.
Perhaps the most glaring difference for Miami was McClinton’s disappearing act. While he was nearly unstoppable in the first half, he scored only two points after halftime, shooting the ball only four times.
“I don’t know that (McClinton’s) assertiveness was the case,” said Haith, who explained that the offense was affected by Wake Forest’s decision to switch to a zone defense. “We felt our strength in this ballgame was in the paint. We wanted to get our post guys involved.”
While the Hurricanes have been successful at home, they must now find ways to win ACC games on the road to avoid falling too far behind in the standings. Miami will try to avenge the loss on Saturday, as they travel to Durham, North Carolina to take on No. 3-ranked Duke.
“The team that will be able to get some separation is the team that will be able to win a few games on the road,” Haith said.
Joel Brown may be reached at email@example.com.