Preview: No. 25 Miami tries to continue building momentum against Wake Forest
TIME: 7 p.m.
Back in the Top 25 after a two-week absence, No. 25 Miami will be looking to continue to build on its momentum with two games against a pair of unranked foes before hosting No. 2 Virginia in a key Atlantic Coast Conference matchup next week.
The Hurricanes (17-5, 6-4 ACC) will entertain Wake Forest (9-14, 2-9 ACC) Wednesday night in their Watsco Center home in Coral Gables, then take on Boston College (14-9, 4-6 ACC) Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill.
Since starting conference play by losing three of their first five league games, the Hurricanes have won four of their last five, including their last two since sophomore guard Bruce Brown was lost to a foot injury.
Brown had surgery last week after his injury was diagnosed two days after the Hurricanes lost at Florida State and is expected to be out about five more weeks.
The Hurricanes struggled somewhat in a 69-57 win over Pittsburgh at home in their first outing without their No. 2 scorer and top rebounder but picked up an impressive 84-75 win at Virginia Tech last weekend for their sixth road win of the season.
Freshman guard Lonnie Walker and guard-forward Anthony Lawrence II have been keenly instrumental in the two games. Walker has averaged just a tick under 18 points a game over his last seven games (six starts) and Lawrence has had double-doubles the last two. Lawrence had 10 points and 10 rebounds against Pitt and career highs in points (25) and rebounds (13) against the Hokies.
“He’s doing the things he knows he’s good at and kind of just focusing on them,” coach Jim Larranaga said of the 6-7 junior. “He’s getting to handle the ball a lot, which I think he likes. He gets some open 3s, he gets some driving opportunities, and he’s defending and rebounding at a very high level.
Wake Forest comes into the game having lost eight of its last nine. The Demon Deacons followed a midweek 76-72 win over Florida State with a 75-67 loss to Clemson in their last outing.
Junior guard Bryant Crawford leads the team in scoring with a 16.0 average and also is the active ACC leader in career assists with 426. Center Doral Moore, a 7-foot-1 junior, is averaging a double-double in ACC play (10.1 points, 10.7 rebounds) and 10.3/9.1 for the season.
Missed opportunities doomed the Deacons against Clemson. They shot only 39 percent from the field. The Deacons did get 31 points from their bench with guard Keyshawn Woods scoring 13.
“When we can get 31 points of production from our bench,” Manning said, “we are always happy with that kind of production.”
Larranaga expects to get Wake’s best shot.
“They’ve very talented, very skillful at the guard positions,” Larranaga said. “Doral Moore is a huge human being. They’re a real challenge for us. They scored 96 points against us last year. They’re hard to guard. We’ve had a very hard time guarding them.”
Wake has won three of the last five meetings, including the 96-79 win in 2017, but Miami has won the last five at home.