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The Hurricanes lost at home to the No. 5-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels Wednesday, 98-82, failing to get their second ACC win and extending their losing streak to three games.
The Tar Heels (19-1, 4-1 ACC) were coming off their first loss of the season, an 82-80 home defeat to Maryland. Miami (14-4, 1-3 ACC) proved to be the remedy.
“We needed this win,” said North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams. “Miami’s a good basketball team, so I really feel very fortunate right now.”
North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough exploded for 35 points. Guard Ty Lawson also contributed 23 points and 10 assists for the Tar Heels. The Hurricanes were led by freshman guard Lance Hurdle, who scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
As Hansbrough leads the ACC in both scoring and rebounding, North Carolina naturally tried to run their offense had through the 6’9 junior. In the first half, however, Hansbrough seemed frustrated on offense, as the Canes used a combination of Jimmy Graham and Anthony King to keep a body on him at all times while contesting his shots.
But in the second half, he seemed to settle down, allowing himself to be more patient offensively.
Hansbrough did a much better job getting good position on the low blocks, even finishing on a number of three-point plays around the basket. 27 of his 35 points came in the second half. He was nearly automatic from the free throw line, where he shot 15-for-16.
“Tyler took over the game,” said Miami Head Coach Frank Haith. “He completely dominated our post guys. To me, they’re the best team in the country.”
Lawson did a terrific job running the offense for North Carolina. His quickness allowed him to penetrate Miami’s defense off the dribble. He was also able to find opportunities setting up teammates, while simultaneously looking for his own shot. He scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, including an impressive three-point play right before halftime.
A big key to the Tar Heels’ win was their ability to create multiple possessions for themselves by grabbing offensive rebounds. 20 of their 40 rebounds came on the offense, while Miami totaled 32 altogether.
“To me, that was the difference in the game,” Haith said. “We just could not come up with those rebounds and loose balls.”
One bright spot for Miami was the play of junior guard Lance Hurdle. His speed allowed him to push the Hurricane offense, while holding the ability to knock down pull-up jumpers in transition.
Senior Raymond Hicks also provided a surprising spark for the Hurricanes. He was very aggressive on offense, where he did a good job getting in position down low for lay-ups and putbacks. Hicks finished with 17 points.
Miami’s next contest will be at home on Sunday against Clemson.
“We can’t get down,” Hurdle said. “It’s a long season. We’ve just got to keep playing hard.”
Joel Brown may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.