The Miami Hurricanes had to play without Bruce Brown Wednesday night as he awaits surgery on his left foot Thursday; but they managed to win without him, beating conference cellar-dweller Pittsburgh 69-57.
The Canes let a 15-point lead evaporate in the second half, and Pitt took a 44-43 lead on a three-pointer by Jared Wilson-Frame to cap a 19-5 run.
The crowd got quiet, shuddering at the thought of UM losing to a Pitt team that is 0-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference – one of just two winless teams in all the major conferences. The Panthers’ roster has seven freshmen, two junior college transfers, and senior forward Ryan Luther is injured.
But freshman Lonnie Walker IV came to the rescue for the Hurricanes with a seven-point personal run to push UM ahead 50-44 with nine minutes to go. They never looked back. Walker led UM with 16 points.
Freshman point guard Chris Lykes started in place of Brown, and finished with 13 points and five assists. Sophomore DJ Vasiljevic, coming off a 20-point game against Florida State, started instead of Ja’Quan Newton. Dewan Huell had 11 points and Anthony Lawrence added 10 with eight rebounds.
Taking advantage of Pitt’s lack of size, the Hurricanes dominated the boards. They outrebounded the Panthers 20-11 in the first half, including a 9-1 advantage on the offensive end. By the end of the game, they had 37 rebounds to 23 for Pitt.
Pitt (8-15) ended the first half on a 6-0 run, while Miami went cold for three minutes, but UM held a safe 34-25 lead going into the locker room. Lykes and fellow freshman Walker struggled in the first half, going 2-for-9 combined. Vasiljevic made up for their troubles with eight first-half points.
First semester Honor Roll athletes from all sports were recognized at halftime. The four men’s basketball honorees were Walker, Ebuka Izundu, Mike Robinson and Chris Stowell.
The Hurricanes improved to 16-5, 5-4 ACC. Their next game is Saturday at Virginia Tech.