Ja’Quan Newton was out. Bruce Brown was playing with tonsillitis. Ebuka Izundu had to leave the game in the second half because of cramps.
Against some difficult odds, the University of Miami was resilient and overcame what was shortened to a six-man lineup to defeat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 70-61 on Wednesday night in the Watsco Center.
Senior guard Davon Reed, as he often does, stepped up to the challenge, scoring 21 points to lead the Hurricanes (17-8, 7-6 ACC).
Miami got separation on the scoreboard with a 7-0 run late in the second half, which pushed its lead to 12. Georgia Tech would take a one-point lead at the 14:13 mark of the second half, but from there it was all UM. The Hurricanes went on a 20-6 run from that point, putting the game out of reach for the Yellow Jackets.
Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga lauded his team’s resilience given its many health issues coming into the game.
“At this time of the year, the freshmen normally hit a wall and are drained. [Brown] played 37 minutes. [Huell] played 21,” Larrañaga said. “And against the ninth-ranked defense in the country, we shot 55 percent from the field, 50 percent from three and 81 percent from the foul line. So [it was]an outstanding offensive performance.”
Kamari Murphy helped lead UM to win the rebound battle, outmatching Georgia Tech (15-11, 6-7 ACC) 29-16 on the boards. Murphy pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
“We’re playing well, but we need everybody to play well,” Larrañaga said.
Sophomore guard Anthony Lawrence Jr. replaced Newton in the starting lineup. Lawrence struggled, tallying just four points in 28 minutes, so Larrañaga elected to close the game with freshman sharpshooter DJ Vasiljevic. Vasiljevic came through with one of his best performances of the year, providing a spark off the bench with 13 points that included three triples.
Forward Dewan Huell, who was also less than 100 percent with an ankle injury suffered in the game against Louisville, was another freshman who played big in key moments, scoring 13 in 21 minutes.
Miami announced earlier on Wednesday that it had suspended Newton – the team’s starting point guard – for three games due to a violation of team rules. It is his second suspension in the past two seasons.
“Discipline is about teaching,” Larrañaga said. “We’re going to try to help you learn the difference between doing things right and doing things that aren’t quite so right.”
Guard Josh Okogie and center Ben Lammers led the way for Georgia Tech, scoring 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Miami will host Clemson at noon on Saturday before playing back-to-back ranked opponents in No. 14 Virginia and No. 12 Duke.