Basketball, Sports

Miami loses third-straight game, offensive struggles continue with tournaments looming

Chris Lykes and Lonnie Walker

Miami freshmen Chris Lykes (left) and Lonnie Walker IV (right) speak to the media following a 62-55 loss to the Syracuse Orange Feb. 17 at the Watsco Center. The Hurricanes made just 34 percent of their shots. Photo credit: Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Chants of “Let’s go, Orange” filled the Watsco Center.

Miami Hurricanes fans seemed to have hit the peak of their frustration this season, so much so that you could barely hear them toward the end of the game against the Syracuse Orange Saturday afternoon.

The Hurricanes shot just 34 percent in a 62-55 loss to the Orange Feb. 17, undergoing its first three-game losing streak of the season. This comes right after the Canes recorded their first three-game winning streak of the season.

“It was very, very hard to score today,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said after the game. “Even some the shots we made were really challenging. We settled for way too many deep threes. I thought we needed to be a little calmer.”

UM (18-8, 7-7 ACC) now sits in eighth place out of 15 teams in the conference. The Hurricanes hold a record of 8-8 since starting 10-0. The Canes, who had their lowest scoring output of the season with a 50-point effort in a loss to Virginia, moves to 2-4 when scoring 59 points or fewer.

“There is definitely a sense of urgency but nothing to be overwhelmed about,” said Miami freshman Lonnie Walker IV, who had 12 points but fouled out of the game with 40 seconds left in the second half. “Our team will pick it up. You can’t be too scared about losing the next game. We just have to push these next few games with a chip on our shoulders.”

Syracuse (18-9, 7-7 ACC) shot 48 percent to recover from a four-point loss at home to N.C. State, 74-70, Feb. 14.

Junior guard Frank Howard led the way for the Orange, scoring 18 points. Freshman forward Oshae Brissett recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Tyus Battle, who leads Cuse in scoring and ranks No. 3 in the ACC averaging 20.2 points, had 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Freshman guard Chris Lykes, who has started the last six games since the injury to sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr., led Miami with a team-high 14 points. He has led the Hurricanes in scoring over the last six games averaging 13.5 points.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Lykes said. “We got to look at every loss, take the positives and take the things you are trying to work on and be better next time.”

Sophomore sharpshooter DJ Vasiljevic averaged 15.5 points against the Orange last season. He tallied six points on Saturday.

Miami shot 31 three-pointers but made just seven. The team moves to a record of 4-3 without Brown.

“Overall, you have to keep them out of the lane because they are such good athletes,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said about Lykes and Walker. “And I think we did a good job of that.”

In another defensive, low-scoring matchup, UM went through multiple scoring droughts – most notably a six-minute scoreless stretch early in the second half in which Syracuse went on a 15-0 run to reach its largest lead of 12 points.

But the Canes recovered with a 13-3 run of their own, hitting a handful of contested three-pointers to get right back into the game and bring the deficit to within two points.

Miami endured another slow start Saturday afternoon, going through a period in the first half where it missed 12 of 13 shots and didn’t score for more than three minutes. But Syracuse went through a three-minute stretch without points, too. The score was even at 25 apiece at halftime.

Each of UM’s eight losses this season have come by 10 points or fewer. In six of those games – Virginia and Syracuse being the exception – the Canes have led or been within two points in the final four minutes of the second half.

Miami looks to stop the bleeding against Notre Dame in a 7 p.m. matchup Feb. 19 in South Bend, Indiana.

Syracuse moves on to host No. 14 North Carolina in a 7 p.m. tip-off Feb. 21 in the Carrier Dome.

February 17, 2018


Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah_km.

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