University of Miami

Freshman Lonnie Walker proves to be the real deal for UM with win over BU

Miami Hurricanes guard Lonnie Walker IV at the free throw line during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Boston University Terriers at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes guard Lonnie Walker IV at the free throw line during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Boston University Terriers at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

The 10th-ranked University of Miami men’s basketball team remained undefeated with a 69-54 victory over Boston University on Tuesday night.

Here are Five Takeaways from the game as the Canes (8-0) hit the road until after the New Year:

▪ Freshman Lonnie Walker IV arrived at the University of Miami with a lot of fanfare. On Tuesday night, in a breakout game against BU, he showed what all the fuss was about. Walker, who had struggled in earlier games this season, exploded for a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes. He was 9-of-15 from the field and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds and had two assists.

During one sequence in the second half, Walker scored 16 of UM’s 20 points, including four three-pointers.

“He’s a freshman?” BU coach Joe Jones said, smiling, after the game. “Doesn’t look like a freshman. He’s an NBA prospect. … If he’s making those kind of shots, it’s going to be tough to beat them. He’s a big, strong kid and made threes from deep. He was the difference.”

Walker, starting his first game in place of injured Bruce Brown, said he felt added responsibility.

“My confidence exploded to 100 percent,” he said. “The rim got huge, and the ball got smaller. Everything was going my way.”

UM coach Jim Larrañaga was not as surprised as others to see Walker take over the game.

“He just looked like Lonnie Walker to me,” he said. “I’ve seen him play great a lot. He was in attack mode from the start.”

▪ Australian sharpshooter DJ Vasiljevic continues to play a big role in the Hurricanes’ success. Against BU, he was 6 for 10 and made 3-of-6 three-pointers. He seems to score from the corners at the most critical moments of the game.

▪ Brown’s rebounding was missed as much — if not more — than his scoring. The Terriers had a 14-7 edge over the Canes on the offensive glass. Brown has been playing with an injured hand for several weeks, and doctors told him to give it a rest to give it a chance to heal properly. He will miss the George Washington game Dec. 16 and is expected to be back in time for the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Dec. 23-25.

▪ Free-throw shooting is still a problem for the Hurricanes. Miami and BU rank among the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation. On Tuesday, the Canes made 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) and the Terriers made 5 of 8 (62.5 percent).

▪ Jones, the BU coach, expects UM to be in the conversation in March. “They have a tremendous coach. I’d want my son to play for Coach L. They’re committed to playing defense. Offensively, they’re still growing. They’re just going to get better and better. Beating Minnesota at Minnesota, it was entertaining to watch, and scared the crap out of me. Yes, they can be a factor in March.”

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