Hot off a regular season ending win over Boston College, the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team survived a 79-73 battle against the Pittsburgh Panthers Tuesday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum to advance to the second round of the ACC tournament.
Miami (9-16, 4-15 ACC) shot 43 percent from the field in the game and missed six out of its 28 free throws. Miami also assisted on 17 of its 26 field goals while turning the ball over six times.
“Well, I’m a great believer in numbers and the numbers today were very indicative of the terrific win we had,” Miami dead coach Jim Larrañaga said after the game. “Points in the paint we had 38 to 28 and points off turnovers 22 to 6. So, very, very happy with those numbers.”
The No. 13 seeded Canes were once again playing under manned, with only six available scholarship players available, but were able to get a balanced scoring attacked as all five Miami starters scored In double-digit. Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong led Miami with 20 points. Guards Kameron McGusty and Elijah Olaniyi also added 14 points in the win over Pittsburgh (10-12, 6-10 ACC).
Sophomore forward Anthony Walker was also a big contributor for Miami. Besides, scoring 14 points of his own, Larrañaga credited him for the defensive job he did on Panthers sophomore star Justin Champagnie.
“The job that Anthony Walker did on Justin Champagnie, the first-team all-conference performer,” Larrañaga said. “He ended the game 5-20, 1-8 from three. So, you have to give Anthony and his teammates a lot of credit.”
Miami started the game on an early 7-4 run before the Panthers called their first timeout of the game. The Panthers respond out of the timeout hitting three straight three-pointers and taking their first lead of the game. After tying the game at 19, the Canes went on a 12–5 run to take a 31–24 lead with 4:04 left in the half. The Panthers made a small run before halftime, but the Canes held on to a four-point lead at the break.
The second half would be more of the same as both teams continued to make runs with no one able to gain more than a five-point lead. Miami held a four-point lead with 5:33 to play but an 8-2 run helped The Panthers take a two-point lead. After being down by two with only three minutes to play the Canes responded by scored three straight lay-ups which include an and-one lay-up from starting center Nysier Brooks that gave Miami a 7 point lead with only 55 seconds to play. Miami made some clutch free throws to help seal the victory.
“Coming into this game today we just had a lot more enthusiasm in us. Just more energy, we were more live I would say,” Brooks said. “This win tonight can help definitely help us for tomorrow and just help with momentum just to carry forth and just to have another big game to where we can come out victory.”
With the win, the Hurricanes will now advance to the second round of the ACC tournament to play the No. 5 seeded Clemson Tigers on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m at the Greensboro Coliseum.