The Miami Hurricanes bubble might have burst Wednesday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina after Wake Forest defeated the Hurricanes 72-70.
Miami (15-8, 5-6 ACC) had a chance to win or tie the game at the end of regulation, yet did not capitalize on the opportunity.
With a tick under 20 seconds left and the Hurricanes down 72-70, head coach Jim Larrañaga called a time out to set his team for the final possession. Sophomore guard Davon Reed inbounded the ball to team captain Angel Rodriguez.
Rodriguez danced around the perimeter, feigning interest in a three-point attempt. His defender bit on the act job, and Rodriguez drove towards the hoop.
With the clock near expiration, Rodriguez laid the ball off the backboard, only to see it rim out. The buzzer sounded, and the game was over.
“It was up to Angel to make the decision to drive or shoot,” Larrañaga said. “We got the switch we were looking for.”
“He got started a little later than we would have liked. But he got the shot we liked, and it just spun in and out,” Larrañaga added.
In many ways, the play was emblematic of Rodriguez’s season. It has been a tough past few weeks for the Hurricanes’ starting point guard, who has been working hard to find his shooting touch for a while.
Rodriguez did not score in the first half but broke out of his prolonged slump in the second half, contributing 15 points.
Miami’s tournament hopes may have been dashed with the loss. Before the game, Miami was certainly on the bubble. However, losing to a rebuilding Wake Forest program may have finally eliminated Miami from tournament contention.
Despite the loss, sophomore Davon Reed continued to play well, leading the Hurricanes with 17 points. Junior guard Sheldon McClellan added 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Wake Forest (12-13, 4-8 ACC) ignited its offense early with a 13-0 run in the first half, fueled by a bombardment of three pointers from freshman Konstantinos Mitoglou. Miami had no competent defense for the deep shooting big man, who opened the game with 10 of Wake’s first 13 points.
Mitoglou finished with 21 points and was 6-7 from three-point range.
In the first half, the Demon Deacons were 11-18 from beyond the arc and shot 54 percent from the field. At the break, Miami found itself down 42-33.
Foul trouble forced center Tonye Jekiri and Angel Rodriguez to the bench in the second half, forcing Larrañaga to play without two of his starters for an extended period. Jekiri ultimately fouled out, scoring only six points and grabbing just three rebounds.
Miami made second half adjustments to limit Wake Forest’s scoring, and briefly took the lead in the second half. However, Larrañaga’s team could not hold the lead.
Miami now travels further north to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to take on Boston College (9-14, 1-10 ACC). If Miami has any tournament aspirations, it is absolutely essential they win at Boston College.
Featured image courtesy Canes Hoops via Twitter