Miami tops Wake Forest 69-56
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Garrius Adams saved his best performance for his last regular season home game.
The senior guard scored a career-high 22 points to lead Miami to a 69-56 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.
“There is this joke that coach asks us what we’re all thinking,” Adams said. “I seem to play my best when I’m thinking nothing. I just relax and do what I’m good at. I wasn’t thinking of anything. I was just out there helping my teammates and trying to get the win.”
Adams shot 6 of 8 from the field and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line as the Hurricanes never trailed after a 14-0 run midway through the first half. Miami withstood a Deacons’ rally to end the first half.
The Hurricanes (16-15, 7-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) expanded a six-point lead at halftime and outscored Wake Forest 12-2 in the first 6:57 of the second half. Rion Brown’s jumper with 13:03 remaining pushed the Hurricanes’ lead to 41-25.
The Deacons got no closer than 45-35 after Aaron Rountree’s dunk with 10:36 remaining. Keyed by Brown’s 3-pointer and dunk, Miami outscored Wake Forest 11-2 in the next 4:04.
“We were able to build a nice lead and then hold them off,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “It’s nice winning our last three home games after struggling at home much of the season.”
Brown, another of Miami’s six seniors, finished with 19 points in his last home game for the Hurricanes. Erik Swoope was Miami’s third double-digit scorer with 10 points.
“I thought it was going to be more emotional but I just approached it like if it was another home game,” Brown said. “That helped because it didn’t place any added pressure.”
The win moved Miami past Wake Forest (16-15, 6-12) for a 10th place finish in the regular season conference standings. Last season, in a similar setting, the Hurricanes defeated Clemson to clinch the conference regular season title.
“I don’t think there was any pressure on this team today like there was last year,” Larranaga said. “Last year we were playing for the league title outright.
Coron Williams scored 17 points for the Deacons.
“Give Miami credit, on senior day, they played very well,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We were up five in the first half and they went on a 14-0 run. That put us on our heels.”
The Deacons rallied from an 11-point deficit with an 8-0 run late in the first half. Travis McKie’s dunk with 43 seconds remaining ended the surge and cut Miami’s lead to 27-23.
Adams’ running jumper with 4 seconds remaining gave the Hurricanes a 29-23 lead at halftime.
The Hurricanes scored 14 unanswered points and erased a five-point deficit midway through the first half. Consecutive 3-pointers from Manu Lecomte and Davon Reed gave Miami its first lead at 15-14 with 8:20 remaining.
Brown scored five points in the Hurricanes’ surge and his 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining capped the run and gave Miami a 23-14 lead.
“We got a bunch of stops,” Larranaga said of the Hurricanes’ spurt. “A couple of turnovers led to easy baskets. It got our guys energized. And we shared the ball.”
Tyler Cavanaugh’s layup with 4:20 remaining ended a scoring drought of 6:35 for the Deacons.
Miami will play Virginia Tech in its ACC tournament first-round game Wednesday afternoon in Greensboro, N.C., immediately following Wake Forest’s tournament opener against Notre Dame.