Canes Tip-off Regular Season Tonight Versus Lehigh

Canes Tip-off Regular Season Tonight Versus Lehigh

Aaron Brecheisen
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team will begin its 2018-19 season tonight at 7 p.m. against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at the Watsco Center. The game can be streamed online via ACC Network Extra.

The Canes enter the new season without Lonnie Walker IV, Bruce Brown and Ja’Quan Newton, but still return 63 percent of its scoring, 65 percent of its rebounding and 46 percent of its assists from the 2017-18 squad. Dewan Hernandez (formerly Huell) is the leading returning scorer (11.4 ppg) and rebounder (6.7 rpg), while Chris Lykes averaged 9.6 ppg and D.J. Vasiljevic averaged 9.0 ppg and an ACC-best 41.1 percent from behind the arc. Miami finished 22-10 last season, its fourth straight season with 20+ wins and third straight season in the NCAA Tournament.

Miami also added two new transfers this season. Zach Johnson scored 1,344 points in three seasons at Florida Gulf Coast and was a First-Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection last season before coming to UM as a graduate transfer. Anthony Mack sat out last season at Wyoming and has four years of eligibility left. Both guards are expected to contribute this season, adding depth to the Hurricanes’ backcourt.

Despite only leading by six points at halftime, Miami rolled to a 30-point victory in its only exhibition game against Barry University, 91-61, on Oct. 30. Hernandez led the Canes with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson and Vasiljevic added 17 points apiece.

Lehigh, the preseason favorite to win the Patriot League, comes into its second game of the season on a high note after dismantling Monmouth, 85-61, on Tuesday. The Mountain Hawks out-rebounded Monmouth, 47-28, and held the Hawks to just 33.9 percent shooting from the field. Lehigh was led by junior forward Pat Andree who had 31 points in the game, which helped the Mountain Hawks win their ninth straight regular season game dating back to last season.

Lehigh led the Patriot League last season in three-point shooting percentage and second in total scoring. They also ranked 55th in the nation in possessions per game. Conversely, the Hurricanes ranked 261st in possessions per game. It will be interesting to see the battle of contrasting styles in terms of pace in this game.

The Mountain Hawks return its top scorer from last year, senior guard Lance Tejada. The name might sound familiar locally, as Tejada is a Miramar native and graduated from Blanche Ely High School before going to East Carolina and then transferring to Lehigh. He was the Broward County Player of the Year in 6A/7A/8A according to the Miami Herald in 2013-14.

Miami leads the all-time series against Lehigh, 6-1, including five straight wins. Most recently, the Hurricanes defeated the Mountain Hawks, 79-58, on Dec. 9, 2006.

Miami is 55-13 all-time in season openers, including 6-1 under head coach Jim Larranaga.

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