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Canes defeat Wake Forest 77-63

Canes defeat Wake Forest 77-63

Peter Ariz
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Although most Canes fans had their sights set on Monday night’s upcoming showdown with Duke, Head Coach Jim Larranaga’s team had to grind out a win on Saturday against Wake Forest in a game that was tighter than the final score indicated.

Larranaga stressed the importance of this game to his team, knowing the Canes fell to Wake Forest last season on the road. Miami took this one by a final score of 77-63.

“They beat us last year at their place. They outran us. We needed to be sure that we understood we were going to have to outrun them this year,” said Larranaga. “I didn’t mention it (Duke). These guys know everybody in our league is good.

The Demon Deacons, coached by Kansas Jayhawks legend Danny Manning, made it tough sledding for the Canes in the first half, as Miami shot 34.4% from the field. Miami continued to struggle with shooting percentages throughout the game as well with a 37.5% clip in the second half.

“In the first half, we did some decent things defensively to hold them to a lower field goal percentage, but we were still down. You look at the second-chance opportunities with offensive rebounds and turnovers,” Manning said.

The fifteenth-ranked Hurricanes held a 31-20 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first half, but a sluggish finish allowed the Demon Deacons to creep back into the game and cut Miami’s lead to 2 at the half. West Palm Beach native John Collins sparked the Wake Forest run with 8 points in the final 3 minutes of the half.

It was a balanced effort for Miami on the offensive end of the floor, with Ja’Quan Newton, Sheldon McClellan, and Angel Rodriguez all scoring in double digits. Newton led the way with 18, while McClellan and Rodriguez each had 16.

Tonye Jekiri led Miami with 12 rebounds. He was tasked with guarding senior forward Devin Thomas, who is 16th in the country in free throws attempted. Thomas, Wake’s leading scorer, was held to 12 points on 5-13 shooting and only four free throw attempts.

“It’s very easy for him (Thomas) to get the other big man in trouble, and he’s done that in league play several times already. But Tonye is a very smart and fundamentally-sound defender,” Larranaga said about Jekiri’s effort on Thomas.

The Canes led 57-51 at the 5:48 mark in the second half and proceeded to go on an 8-2 run over the next minute and a half to separate themselves from the Demon Deacons.

“Miami stepped on the gas and created some separation from us and we couldnt keep up,” Manning added. “Coach L has those guys playing at a high level.”

Larranaga mentioned the talent of Wake Forest’s team as a positive, but Manning was not as optimistic about his own team, who fell to 10-9 (1-6) with the loss.

“That’s very nice of him (Larranaga), but we are 1-6 and that’s the only thing we are looking at right now,” Manning said.

Following a 1-2 ACC road trip that included consecutive losses at Virginia and Clemson, Miami seems to have found their footing once again. The Canes have now won back-to-back games following Wednesday night’s 14-point victory over Boston College in Chestnut Hill and Saturday afternoon’s win.

Looking ahead to Monday night, Larranaga knows that Duke’s identity begins with Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“There is not a single coach in the history of the game like him. He is the corporate head coach of America. He is the winningest head coach in college basketball history. He coaches our national team,” Larranaga said. “When you face Duke, you know you’re going to face a great coach with great talent.”

The Canes face off against the Blue Devils at 7 P.M. in Coral Gables. The game will air on ESPN as a part of the network’s “Big Monday” lineup.
 

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