The No. 17 Hurricanes played a game of their own on Super Bowl Sunday as they headed up to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Miami’s 75-68 win over Georgia Tech has the Canes just one back for the ACC lead as a few teams ahead of them dropped games on Saturday evening.
The Yellow Jackets (12-11, 2-8) played very well at home and were a tough challenge for Miami throughout the game. The Canes (18-4, 7-3) seemed a tad lethargic to start out, unable to get going on offense. It took nearly three minutes for the team to score their first basket of the game. Luckily, freshman forward Anthony Lawrence Jr. and sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton sparked the Canes coming off the bench.
Newton’s athleticism and energy provided the Canes with a couple of opportunities for easy baskets in transition, while Lawrence kept multiple possessions alive by hustling for loose balls and chasing down offensive rebounds. From there, Miami’s main man, redshirt senior guard Sheldon McClellan, took over. He scored six straight points during a stretch at the end of the first half and led the Canes to a 33-32 lead at halftime.
McClellan, who finished the afternoon with a game-high 22 points, picked right back up in the second half by hitting his first three-pointer of the game on the first possession. Miami as a whole took it up a notch offensively in the second half, getting timely scoring from junior guard Devon Reed, but the gritty Yellow Jackets wouldn’t go away and kept it tight until the end. Miami ultimately clinched the game by sinking nine straight free throws in the final minutes of the game.
With this win, the Canes moved into a tie for second place in the ACC standings and put themselves in a great position to claim a regular season ACC title by the season’s end. Miami still has remaining games against Louisville, Virginia and North Carolina, the three other teams at the top of the standings. If the Canes find a way to win those games, they will be able to win their second ACC title under Head Coach Jim Larrañaga and will find themselves in the driver’s seat for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday.
The Canes continue their quest for a championship against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the BankUnited Center.