The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team ended the 2018 year on a winning note.
Hurricanes earned their third win in a row after slowing down the leading scorer in the nation in a 73-62 victory over the Campbell Fighting Camels Saturday afternoon.
Fighting Camels (6-7) guard Chris Clemons entered the contest averaging 30.5 per game to lead the nation. Chris Lykes accepted the challenge of facing him along with the help of the Hurricanes defense Clemons finished with a season-low 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting. The senior guard scored 12 of his points in the final three minutes when the Hurricanes maintained a double-digit advantage.
“I always like the challenge, and basketball has been pretty much a challenge for me my whole life,” Lykes said. “I just felt like to help my team win the game. It wasn’t too much me versus him going on because that’s not good for the team.”
The 5-foot-7 Lykes led the way for Miami with 14 points, 5 of 7 from the field and 3-4 from 3-point land at the half finishing with 21 points. Zach Johnson shot 5 of 6 from behind the arc, finishing with 22 points.
Johnson, a senior graduate transfer, reached 1,500 career points. “It means everything, I’m blessed,” said Johnson, who played his first three seasons at Florida Gulf Coast. “A lot of players don’t get a chance to score 1,000. To sit here in front of you guys, it’s just a blessing. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.”
Hurricanes (8-4) have four non-conference losses, which were part of a four-game losing streak before ending non-conference play with the current streak. Depth remains a concern for the Hurricanes.
“We are happy with where we are right now,” Larranaga said. “We obviously are very short-handed. We’ve got some issues that we’re dealing with and hopefully we can somehow manage to figure out a way to defend well enough to stay in the game and make enough shots to put some pressure on our opponents.”
Larranaga used a seven-player rotation as the Hurricanes again played without junior forward Dewan Hernandez, who remains sidelined as the NCAA and the school continue to review his eligibility. Miami also lost center Dang Gek to a season-ending knee injury Dec. 1.
Hurricanes are 6-1 at home with no. 20 North Carolina State visiting Thursday night with only one loss.
“I thought they did a real good job on making it hard on Chris,” Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan said. “He probably got a little bit sped up and anxious to do too much early.”
Clemons began the game 0-6 shooting. At the half, Clemons was 3-10 from the field, 1 of 6 from 3-point land and 7 points. Clemons’ free throw with 3:07 remaining in the second half extended his double-figure scoring streak to 95. Clemons surpassed 2,600 career points with his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The beat goes on.
The Fighting Camels return home Wednesday for their final nonconference game against Allen. Hurricanes open ACC schedule hosting the Wolfpack.