CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team picked up its seventh consecutive victory with a 92-84 wire-to-wire triumph over Wake Forest Saturday night.
Despite playing without a starter due to COVID protocols for the second consecutive game, Miami (11-3, 3-0 ACC) used sizzling offense from start to finish to take down the Demon Deacons at the Watsco Center.
The Hurricanes, behind a game- and season-high 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting from third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong, shot 61.5 percent on the night, their best mark since Dec. 25, 2017. It also marked their third-best ledger ever in ACC play, including their top tally since Feb. 13, 2013.
“We had so many guys make so many different contributions. Isaiah, obviously, was the biggest with 25 points and some key baskets down the stretch,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “But Charlie Moore was the one that got us off to such a great start and then Kam McGusty was the one that they ended up fouling at the end and he helped us stay in front by making his free throws. Then you have Deng Gak and Anthony Walker and Jordan Miller doing their jobs, both defensively and offensively. So, just a great team effort.”
After a nearly even start to the game, Miami held Wake Forest (11-3, 1-2 ACC) scoreless for over five minutes and scored 10 straight points to go in front by 12, 18-6. The Hurricanes, though, did not stop there.
Buoyed by a 6-of-9 start from 3-point range, including a 3-of-3 clip by sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore, Miami upped its run to 19-6 and grabbed a 15-point edge, 27-12, with 8:29 on the clock. The Demon Deacons, though, made their final 10 field goals of the half to pull within five and the margin sat at just that, 43-38, entering the intermission.
Moore and fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller, who also started 3-of-3 on 3-pointers, combined for 25 first-half points, with 12 and 13, respectively. At the other end, three Wake Forest big men—junior forward Jake LaRavia, senior forward Khadim Sy and graduate student center/forward Dallas Walton—combined for 13-of-18 shooting, logging 27 first-half points.
Early in the second half, after Miami went up by eight, Wake Forest hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 52-50, but the Hurricanes countered with seven straight points to spark a 12-4 run that gave the Hurricanes a 10-point edge, 64-54, with 13:56 to go. The surge included eight points from sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty, who was previously scoreless.
Wake Forest trimmed its deficit back down to three, but the Hurricanes countered once again, this time using an 8-1 run to go up by 10, 80-70, with 5:58 remaining. From there, the Demon Deacons cut the margin to three twice, but never pulled any closer, as Miami held on to earn their third ACC win in as many attempts.
“There were so many things we had to guard. Their post game was ridiculously good. They’re also an excellent 3-point shooting team and they’re a great transition team,” Larrañaga said of withstanding Wake Forest’s runs. “It’s very, very hard to stay out in front of a team like that and yet, we led from start to finish, which is a real tribute to our players.”
In addition to setting a season best in points, Wong also set a season high in makes, finishing one shy of his career best. He added a season-high-tying four assists in the victory.
Moore finished with 18 points, shooting 6-of-7 from the floor, 3-of-3 on 3-pointers and 3-of-4 at the line. The Chicago native also dished out a co-game-high seven assists, one off his season best.
Miller, who eclipsed 1,000 points with his first basket of the game, totaled 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including a 3-of-4 ledger from deep. McGusty scored 15 points, all in the second half, and went 10-of-11 from the line while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
LaRavia finished with a team-high 19 points for the Demon Deacons, shooting 9-of-13 from the floor, while notching seven rebounds and six assists. Senior forward Isaiah Mucius scored 17 points, including 14 in the second half, and went 5-of-9 from long range.
Graduate student guard Alondes Williams, the ACC’s second-leading scorer, registered 15 points, six rebounds and a co-game-high seven assists. Miami held him without a point for the first 19 minutes of action. Walton scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Sy added 10 on an equal mark
Following a 7-of-10 start from 3-point range, Miami went just 2-of-8 the rest of the way to finish 9-of-18. The 50 percent clip, though, still marked the team’s second-best total of the season.
The Hurricanes have now scored 90-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since November 2015 and for the first time in ever consecutive ACC contests.
“I think the opponent has a lot to do with that. We’re playing teams that are very up-tempo, that look to score quickly,” Larrañaga said of the offensive success. “We’re not a team that just slows it down, but we want to be more selective. We need our opponents to play some half-court defense. We executed our game plan very well and were able to score at a high level.”
The Hurricanes finished the night with 19 assists and just nine turnovers, as well as shot 19-of-27 (70.4 percent) from the stripe, whereas the Demon Deacons were 4-of-8 (50.0 percent).
Miami now wraps up the third three-game ACC homestand in program history Wednesday at 8 p.m. against Syracuse, live on ACC Network.