Freshman Lonnie Walker IV came to the University of Miami with high expectations.
Despite a slow start to the season, he had shown glimpses of the ability to take over games.
Walker showed exactly what he is capable of Tuesday night, breaking out for a career-high 26 points on 9-15 shooting and seven rebounds to propel the sharpshooting Hurricanes to a 69-54 victory over the Boston University Terriers at the Watsco Center.
Miami has won eight-straight games to open the 2017 season.
Walker, who started in the place of one of Miami’s top scorers and rebounders in sophomore guard Bruce Brown, played undoubtedly his best game as a Hurricanes thus far.
Brown was out with a hand injury that will likely sideline him for 2-3 weeks.
“As the season begins to unravel, I’m starting to get more comfortable in my own skin,” Walker said.
He appeared that way during a decisive second-half outburst in which he hit four three-pointers in a span of around four minutes. The last one gave UM a 55-38 lead, one it would not relinquish.
The Canes were looking for a spark with the score knotted at 30 coming out of halftime. Walker provided an explosion.
“I was a little concerned at halftime that Boston University seemed to be quicker to the ball, quicker to the rebounds, just played with a little more energy and execution than we did,” UM Coach Jim Larrañaga said.
The Terriers corralled nine offensive rebounds and scored nine points off second-chance opportunities in the first half.
Both Walker and Larrañaga said the previous game against Princeton foreshadowed his breakout performance, each noting his heightened aggressiveness in that win.
Nothing about Walker’s big day surprised his head coach.
“During the summer, before the knee injury, he was playing like that,” Larrañaga said speaking about when Walker had to miss three months with a torn meniscus.
BU coach Joe Jones said his team played solid defense, but Walker was just better than anything the Terriers could throw at him on this particular night.
“You can’t defend that, you know,” he said. “Hand up in his face, deep shots – if he’s making those shots, it’s gonna be tough.”
The Canes’ red-hot shooting made things difficult for the Terriers. Miami shot 52 percent from the field and made 11 three-pointers.
Sophomore DJ Vasiljevic chipped in 15 points, and junior Anthony Lawrence played the distributing role, handing out a game-high six assists.
After a 10-day layoff, the Hurricanes will begin a month-long stretch of games away from the friendly confines of the Watsco Center, starting with a matchup against George Washington at noon Dec. 16 in the nation’s capital.