When asked how important his team’s latest victory was as far as building an NCAA Tournament resume, Miami coach Jim Larrañaga refrained from typical coach-speak, especially that of the variety that one typically hears at this time of year.
“They’re all worth one,” he said.
Miami added the latest one to its win total Saturday, getting a monster game from junior guard Anthony Lawrence II, who scored a career-high 25 points to help the Hurricanes secure an 84-75 road victory over Virginia Tech.
Lawrence hit 9 of 10 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, as Miami (17-5, 6-4 ACC) made the big shots down the stretch and used solid free-throw shooting to win its second straight game and fourth in its past five. Lonnie Walker IV and DJ Vasiljevic added 14 points each.
Behind torrid first-half shooting — 58.6 percent (17 of 29) — Miami grabbed the early lead and led for the final 37 minutes. Virginia Tech (16-7, 5-5) used an 8-0 run to slice the lead to 66-63 on a layup by Justin Robinson with 3:51 remaining, but the Walker hit a clutch three-pointer with 3:22 to go to push the lead to 69-63.
Robinson scored on another layup with 3:03 to go to trim the lead to 69-65, but Walker answered again. His tough turnaround jumper with 2:46 left pushed the lead to six, and Virginia Tech got no closer than four the rest of the way.
“He only had four or six points until there was about three minutes left in the game,” Larrañaga said of Walker. “Then he took over. He ended very strong.”
The Canes relied on something down the stretch that isn’t their strength to hold off the Hokies — free-throw shooting. The ACC’s worst free-throw shooting team coming into the game made 9 of 12 in the final 1:16. They hit 16 of 23 (69.6 percent).
Lawrence finished with his second double-double in a row, grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds as well on a day in which Miami outrebounded Virginia Tech 41-28.
Robinson led the Hokies with 22 points. Justin Bibbs had 16.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Despite the loss of Bruce Brown Jr., who underwent surgery Thursday for a left foot injury that will keep him out six weeks, the Canes quietly continue to put together a strong résumé for NCAA Tournament consideration. They won their sixth true road game of the season, and if they get Brown back, they could be a tough out if they get in the tournament.
▪ Lawrence, whose previous career high of 19 came on Jan. 18 against Florida State, scored 15 of his points in the first half when Miami jumped out to a 16-point lead, but he wasn’t feeling 100 percent. He spent most of halftime trying to throw up, and yet he came out in the second half, made all three of his field-goal attempts, and scored 10 more.
▪ Miami returns home for a Wednesday game against Wake Forest.