For the first time since Jan. 4, Miami had a full, healthy roster, and it showed, as the Hurricanes rolled past Wake Forest 71-54 at the Watsco Center Saturday afternoon.
The win marks the second straight victory for Miami after defeating Boston College by almost thirty points last Wednesday.
“That allows the player himself to play really hard and when you play really hard, you play really well,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said on having a full roster. “When everybody is sharing that responsibility, it makes a huge difference. Hopefully we can stay healthy now.”
With nine guys in the rotation, no Miami player played more than 30 minutes. Having rested legs gave Miami the opportunity to dominate the defensive end of the floor.
“When we have these nine guys, its huge,” junior Sam Waardenburg said. “We are able to play good defense with the rotation.”
“Big kudos to us for playing well on the defensive end,” center Rodney Miller said. “That team can really score the basketball, so we did well on the defensive end.”
Miami was able to take the Deacons out of the game early on. Behind a 14-2 scoring run over a four minute period in the closing minutes of the first half, the Canes took a 37-25 lead into halftime.
Wake Forest committed 14 total turnovers, while Miami collected six steals and was able to score 16 points off those turnovers.
Freshman guard Isaiah Wong and junior guard Chris Lykes both led Miami with 13 points and three assists each. Lykes, who has been dealing with a groin injury, made just his second start since Jan. 21 at Duke.
Wong, meanwhile, became the first freshman since 2001 to have back to back 20-point games after Miami’s win over Boston College. Wong scored a career high 23 points against Florida State and had 21 points against Boston College.
“Isaiah early in the year had so much to learn and now his defense is as good as any veteran,” Larrañaga said. “Early in the year he had too many thoughts running through his head and when you are thinking too much, your feet slow down.”
Miami also had a healthy Keith Stone, Sam Waardenburg and Kameron McGusty. Stone missed four games in early January with an injury and Waardenburg was held out of the Boston College game with a neck injury. McGusty was dealing with back spasms at the same time that Lykes was injured.
McGusty and senior guard DJ Vasiljevic both contributed 11 points. Vasiljevic went 2-5 from three-point range. Center Rodney Miller was two points shy of a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
“If we can keep the defense and rebounding up, we are a much better team,” Larrañaga said. “It was a very good defensive effort tonight.”
Miami will next travel to Virginia Tech on Feb. 19. and the team hopes that they can take the winning momentum into their next few games.
“I feel like we just take the momentum we have right now into Virginia Tech and go game by game,” Miller said. “There is still a lot of basketball to play. Win or lose, we just gotta get better and I think we will be just fine.”