The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team was bloodied and beaten Sunday afternoon, and much of that was self-inflicted.
Blood was spilled after Canes wing Garrius Adams inadvertently struck teammate Donnavan Kirk with his right hand while battling for an offensive rebound. Kirk, who Canes coach Jim Larrañaga said has a “shiner” under his left eye, missed several minutes of the game but later returned.
Adams also missed a key free throw in regulation and another one in overtime as the host Canes lost to Virginia Tech 61-60 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Tech (7-3) was picked to finish 15th and last in the ACC this season, and if the Canes (5-5) can’t beat the Hokies at home, the rest of the conference schedule — which picks up again Jan. 4 at No. 4 Syracuse and Jan. 8 at North Carolina — looms as even more daunting.
“Shooting’s been our problem,” Larrañaga said after his Canes shot 34.8 percent on Sunday, making just 4 of 15 on three-pointers. “Our field goal percentage is not good.”
Miami, picked to finish 12th in the ACC, led Sunday by as many as 13 points with 14:54 remaining and had a chance to go up by four with 1:06 left in regulation. But after Adams made his first free throw, his second went in and out.
“I should have made the shot,” said Adams, a senior. “I was very confident going to the line. I made the first one, felt good about the second one.”
Adams’ miss opened the door for Tech’s shooting star, 6-7 senior Jarell Eddie, who was coming off a career-high 34-point game against Winthrop.
Eddie was being guarded by senior Rion Brown, who made the dubious decision to leave his man to try to trap Marshall Wood.
The ball was swung to the right corner to Eddie, who used a pump fake to get freshman Davon Reed off his feet. Eddie waited for Reed to come down and then calmly swished a three-pointer that tied the score, 59-59, with 46 seconds left.
With 15 seconds left in regulation, Reed tried a three-pointer but hit nothing but air. Eddie tried to win the game on Tech’s next possession, but Kirk made a brilliant play to block his shot out of bounds with 0.3 seconds left.
Tech tried a long inbounds pass to center Joey van Zegeren, but his short bank shot went in after the buzzer.
With 51 seconds left in overtime and the score tied 59-59, Brown had a chance to give Miami the lead with a layup. But van Zegeren made a stellar block.
Tech then went back to Eddie, who used a variety of moves to finally shake free for a mid-range jumper over Brown with 20 seconds left.
Trailing 61-59, Adams drove the lane and got fouled with seven seconds left in overtime.
“I told my teammates: ‘[Adams has] a lot of pressure on him right now. Be ready for a miss,’” Eddie said.
Indeed, Adams again made the first free throw but missed the second one off the front rim.
Kirk came up with the loose ball but put up a wild shot that hit the side of the basket, and the Hokies escaped with the win.
Eddie finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-23 shots, including 6 of 14 on three-pointers. As a team, Tech made a dozen three-pointers.
Tech won despite getting just three free throws in the entire game, making one, and losing the rebound battle, 50-43.
Adams led UM with 14 points, James Kelly had 12 and Reed added 10. Kirk, despite the injury, had a game-high 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
“I think we defended Eddie well on a couple of those shots,” Larrañaga said when talking about the Canes’ overall effort. “But we don’t have an experienced offensive player that we can just go to for a basket.”