For the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team, there’s no place like home. The ‘Canes returned to the BankUnited Center on Wednesday to hand the Notre Dame Fighting Irish a nine-point defeat. They have only lost one home game this season and four games over all. Canes experienced an ugly loss over the weekend to North Carolina State and Miami needed to show out against the Fighting Irish.
This game, the ‘Canes took control in the first half, leading Notre Dame by 12 at halftime.
The most surprising outcome of the game came from ‘Canes top shooter, Anthony Lawrence Jr, a forward who is seldom used during games but broke out with an impressive 18 points. Hurricane guards Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, and Ja’Quan Newton each had 12 points.
So far this season Lawrence was averaging under 11 minutes per game and 3.8 points per game. Those numbers soared to 21 minutes, along with those 18 points against the Irish. He hit on all four of his attempted three-point shots, matching the number of three-pointers he’s made all year in one game. In addition to his makes from beyond the arc, Lawrence added 2 boards, 2 blocks, and a steal for good measure.
The game was nationally televised on ESPN2. After the victory, Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga spoke with both ESPN announcers Dick Vitale and Jeff Van Gundy.
“In the last week of practices, [Lawrence] really showed something. And I wanted to give him a chance to see if he could do it under game conditions, and he did, right away,” Larrañaga said to Vitale. The whole conversation can be found here.
Player performance by the rest of the team was solid as well. Rodriguez led the team with five assists while center Tonye Jekiri led all players with 12 rebounds. Jekiri, however, failed to record a block for the second straight game. Forward Kamari Murphy added 11 valuable points. His presence in the paint posed a problem for the Irish, as five of his 11 points came on free-throws that helped put Miami in the bonus in the first half. Playing like his usual steady self, guard Davon Reed added 8 points to go along with 2 rebounds and 2 steals.
In a sign that he may be falling out of favor with Coach Jim Larrañaga, forward Ivan Cruz-Uceda tied a season low by playing only 9 minutes. His playing time has decreased in each of the last three games, playing 11 minutes against Duke, 10 minutes against NC State, and the 9 minutes he was on the court against Notre Dame.
At the same time, Cruz-Uceda went a third straight game without scoring any points. Unless Lawrence can replicate his performance from last night on a regular basis, the ‘Canes are going to need Cruz-Uceda’s deft touch from three-point range again at some point this season.
The ‘Canes came out and did what they needed to do after a disappointing loss.While getting outrebounded and out-assisted by Notre Dame, Miami won the game and looked good doing it. They made shots. They forced turnovers. They led by as much as 20 points in the second half. The Canes bring it at home.
Miami (17-4) is off until February 7 when they take on Georgia Tech (12-10) in Atlanta, Georgia. The game is at 1:00 p.m. EST and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.
Alex Goldman is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. He is currently the Sports Editor of distractionmagazine.com. He’s a Northern California native and loves snowboarding, writing, and above all the Green Bay Packers.