Hurricanes open men’s basketball season with convincing win over Lehigh
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami opened its season with a noticeable absence but still found sufficient contributions for a convincing victory.
Chris Lykes scored a career-high 22 points as the Hurricanes defeated Lehigh 83-62 Friday night. Anthony Lawrence finished with a double-double 19 points and 12 rebounds and DJ Vasiljevic scored 16 points for Miami.
Miami forward Dewan Hernandez, the team’s top returning scorer, did not play. According to a statement released by the university, Hernandez will be withheld from competition as the school and the NCAA review his eligibility.
“I don’t have any idea,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said of Hernandez’s possible return. “We’re just waiting for his eligibility to be reviewed.”
Hernandez, who officially changed his last name from Huell during the offseason, declared for the 2018 NBA draft but did not retain an agent. Hernandez withdrew from the draft to return to Miami for his junior season.
“We won’t know until that decision is made as to what the next step is for us,” Larranaga said.
The Hurricanes built an 18-point lead midway through the first half then withstood a Mountain Hawks rally that cut Miami’s advantage to 53-47 with 12:24 remaining in the second half.
Lykes scored five unanswered points on a 3-pointer and two free throws and Lawrence’s layup stretched Miami’s late to 60-47.
“We had guys step up,” Lykes said. “That’s what this team is all about.”
“Of course we wanted to put it away early in the second half,” Lawrence said. “We didn’t want to play around with our opponent. Second half they cut it down to six so we had to pick it up.”
Lance Tejada scored 19 points for Lehigh (1-1).
“Unfortunately we dug ourselves in such an early hole,” Lehigh coach Brett Reed said. “I thought our awareness and communication was really poor. I do give our guys credit for being able to have enough poise to put it together.”
NEW KID ON THE BLOCKS:
Hernandez’s absence also resulted in additional playing time for redshirt freshman forward Deng Gak. Gak blocked three shots and finished with six rebounds in 14 minutes.
Tejada, of nearby Miramar, Florida, scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half. The senior guard missed six of his first seven shots before rebounding with 6-of-12 shooting in the second half. “The halftime allowed him to settle down and find some of his opportunities,” Reed said.
Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks are 1-6 against ACC teams since 2011-12. After a 75-70 upset of Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament, Lehigh has lost twice against Pittsburgh and Virginia and against Syracuse and Miami.
Miami: Lykes is expected to increase his offensive production after the departures of Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown to the NBA. The sophomore guard attempted a career-high 17 shots in Friday’s opener.
“I feel more comfortable,” Lykes said. “These guys have trust in me same way I have trust in them.”
Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks will play their home opener against Marist on Tuesday.
Miami: The Hurricanes face Stephen F. Austin Tuesday in their second of a season-starting three game home stretch.