Just as everyone expected, Miami’s 79-70 win over Notre Dame will always be remembered as the “Anthony Lawrence Game.” The freshman guard led all scorers with a career-high 18 points as the Hurricanes took down the Irishin front of 6,819 fans at the BankUnited Center on Wednesday night.
“I’m very, very proud of Anthony Lawrence Jr.,” Head Coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We call him ‘Amp.’ Amp had gone through a period where he was not playing much, yet in the last few practices he was terrific.”
Lawrence played just one minute in the team’s last three games coming into the matchup against Notre Dame (15-7, 6-4). The 6-foot-7 Florida native made all three of his three-pointers in the first half and went into the break with a team-leading 11 points, just two shy of his career-high for a game.
“I’ve been playing good all week in practice and once I saw the first one go down, I had the confidence already, so I just kept shooting,” Lawrence said. “My teammates kept finding me in open spots and I was just knocking down the shots.”
Amp continued his stellar play after halftime. He started the second half in place of redshirt junior forward Kamari Murphy and proceeded to block two shots in just over two minutes. Lawrence set a new career-high with a falling-away-three-pointer, his fourth on four attempts, over an Irish defender at the 14:25 mark.
Redshirt senior point guard Angel Rodriguez said it was “great” to see Lawrence knock down shots. “You never see a difference in his body language and the way he carries himself,” Rodriguez said. “He hasn’t been playing as much and coach just gave him the opportunity and he was ready to perform.”
Redshirt senior guard Sheldon McClellan put the Canes up by 20 on a step-back three with 8:06 left in the game. Rodriguez applied the finishing touch with an alley-oop to Murphy with 4:25 on the clock. Miami maintained a double-digit lead until the final two seconds.
Rodriguez got off to a nice start for the Canes (17-4, 6-3). The team leader assisted on four of Miami’s first five field goals. Junior guard Davon Reed took the reins the final 5:06 of the half. Reed scored all six of his first-half points and recorded two steals in the stretch.
The Canes took a 45-33 lead into halftime because of a 13-4 run in the final 2:59 of the half. Miami went 17-of-27 (63 percent) from the field in the first and made four shots in a row to close the half. The Canes needed the hot start after suffering a disappointing 85-69 loss to North Carolina State on Jan. 30.
“More than anything I always say, ‘We can’t let one loss become two,’” Rodriguez said. “I thought we did a great job coming out with a lot of energy and with the right mindset and as you can see, we didn’t let one loss become two. Hopefully now we let one win become two.”
The Canes next play Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Atlanta.