Basketball, Commentary, Cover, Sports

Keys for Miami to secure victory in ACC Tournament quarterfinals

Chris Lykes

Freshman Chris Lykes looks for the pass in between two defenders in the Hurricanes' regular season finale against Virginia Tech March 3 at the Watsco Center. Lykes scored 15 points and Miami won 69-68. Photo credit: Josh White

The No. 24-ranked Miami Hurricanes reeled off a four-game winning streak to close the season and will look to win their fifth-straight when they square off against the No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels for the second time in nine days.

Miami is a No. 3-seed and North Carolina is a No. 6-seed in the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York, and the two teams are set to battle it out at 9 p.m. March 8 in the quarterfinals. UNC is coming off a 78-59 win over Syracuse March 7.

Most Miami fans have probably seen the miraculous halfcourt shot by Ja’Quan Newton that won the Canes the first matchup against the Tar Heels … But what can UM do in order to emerge victorious yet again?

DON’T OVERHYPE JOEL BERRY II

Yes, Berry was fantastic in last week’s game, pouring in 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting and hitting several ridiculously tough 3-pointers – including the tying shot that served as the prelude to Newton’s winner.

However, in the two games since against Duke and Syracuse, he has 14 combined points on a paltry 5-of-20 shooting. He’s a good player but one who isn’t overly athletic and tends to rely heavily on his outside shot. The Canes don’t need to overreact to his offensive outburst the last time around because many of the threes he hit were just a case of good defense but better offense.

BEWARE OF THE SWINGMEN

Instead, UNC’s trio of Theo Pinson, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams should be the main focus for Miami’s defense.

Pinson is a poor shooter but can impact a game with his passing and offensive rebounding. The Hurricanes needs to make him settle for 3-pointers and ensure he isn’t nabbing second chances on the glass. If he does, Johnson and Williams will probably be the beneficiaries.

The pair combined for 28 points and five 3-pointers last time out, many seeming to come on open looks. It will be hard for the Canes to match their offensive output from last outing – one where they scored 91 points and hit 11 threes – so they likely won’t be able to survive if Johnson and Williams go off from behind the arc.

RIDE CHRIS LYKES (AND THE PICK-AND-ROLL) TO THE FINISH LINE

The talented freshman looked like the best player on the floor for long stretches of the previous matchup against North Carolina.

Lykes’ 18 points and four assists led the team, as did his four made 3-pointers. Newton had one of his better showings as well, posting 13 points and three assists.

Miami’s offense is at its most dynamic point when three shooters flank a ball screen set by a big man for Lykes or Newton. Both Dewan Huell and Ebuka Izundu had great performances in the last matchup, assisted by UM guards who were finding them on rolls to the basket.

Lykes especially has proven adept at finding fellow freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV and other teammates out of the pick-and-roll, as well as having the ability to finish among the tallest opponents at the basket. Lykes can also create open 3-pointers for himself off the dribble, a useful tool to have when the offense stalls out.

The 5-foot-7 guard has an advantage in quickness and pure speed over almost any defender, and the Hurricanes need him at his best in order to pull off the upset for the second time.

Miami must put the ball in his hands early and often.

Prediction: Miami 81 – North Carolina 79

March 8, 2018

Reporters

Justin Sobelman


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It wasn’t long ago when the Miami Hurricanes’ Class of 2020 included the top three rising senior pro ...

Six new Hurricanes football players arrived on campus and began classes Monday, a group including a ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship schedule is set. The No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes ...

The first regular season of Gino DiMare’s head-coaching era ended Saturday at Mark Light Field. But ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ hopes for hosting an NCAA regional were damaged a bit on Friday night by a 12- ...

Researchers at the University of Miami are transforming weather forecasts by creating a seasonal for ...

Imagine simulating diabetes, lung cancer, or heart disease on a device no larger than a credit card. ...

Alabama’s new abortion law puts the issue of women’s rights in the spotlight for the upcoming 2020 e ...

The University of Miami is shaping the future of education by using innovative approaches that drive ...

Six short films created by University of Miami film students will be screened in Los Angeles this we ...

Four Miami Hurricanes were among those recognized by the Atlantic Coast Conference Monday for their ...

The University of Miami football program announced Tuesday that it has agreed to a home football gam ...

Top-seeded Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team started her NCAA Singles Cha ...

The Barcelona, Spain, native caps his sophomore campaign with a team-high 21 singles wins. ...

The University of Miami track and field program garnered 20 entries in the 2019 NCAA East Preliminar ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.