The defensive-minded Miami Hurricanes have struggled of late, dropping three of their last four games.
However, when the Canes needed a conference road win on Sunday, their offense delivered.
No. 25 Miami shot 58 percent from the field, 53 percent from three-point range and racked up a season-high 26 assists in an 86-81 victory over N.C. State at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.
UM (14-4, 3-3 ACC) led for more than 37 minutes and finished with four players scoring in double figures, led by sophomore standout Bruce Brown Jr., who tallied 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting and nine assists in a bounce-back performance. Brown scored just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting against Duke Jan. 15.
Junior center Ebuka Izundu notched a season-high 15 points off the bench on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting in just 19 minutes. Junior forward Anthony Lawrence II totaled 15 points and freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV chipped in 12 points off the bench.
“My coaches kept emphasizing to our players, ‘We need more assists, we need more assists,’ and the players listened and executed,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said after the game. “I think it sent a message that that’s the way we’re going to play today. We scored 86 points and shared the ball very well.”
Sophomore center Omer Yurtseven led N.C. State with a game-high 28 points and six rebounds.
The Wolfpack (13-7, 3-4 ACC) finish their last five games with a record of 3-2, with four of the matchups coming against ranked opponents.
“Just call it good coaching,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said of Miami’s offense. “They’ve had a few extra days off. I know Jim Larrañaga’s been concerned about his team not shooting the ball or sharing the basketball. Give them credit, I thought they did a tremendous job of sharing the basketball.”
With 8:56 remaining in the second half and a 68-65 advantage, the Canes rallied off nine-straight points for their largest lead of the afternoon.
But the Wolfpack weren’t done.
N.C. State fought back with a 14-5 run of its own to trim the deficit to 82-79, but Brown and sophomore forward Dewan Huell made crucial plays down the stretch to seal the victory for Miami.
The Hurricanes finished cashing in on four of their last five shot attempts from the floor.
The Canes got off to a fast start, making seven of their first 10 shots and three of their first four from distance, leading to an 18-9 advantage early. But the Wolfpack answered back with an 11-3 run.
The two teams traded buckets the rest of the first half, but Miami held a narrow 36-32 advantage at the break.
Coming out of halftime, both teams fired on all cylinders, shooting more than 60 percent in the second half.
Larrañaga shuffled the rotation before the game, elevating freshman guard Chris Lykes into the starting lineup for his first career start. While Lykes finished with just six points and five assists, he registered a game-high plus-14 rating.
With the victory, the Canes advance to 11-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better.
Miami will return home to face off against Louisville at 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Watsco Center.