Lykes scores 15 helps lead Miami past Florida Atlantic 74-60

Chris Lykes scored 15 points to lead Miami to a 74-60 victory over Florida Atlantic Friday night.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami capitalized from the lessons learned in its season-opening loss to Louisville.

Three days after their double-digit defeat to the No. 5 Cardinals, the Hurricanes defeated Florida Atlantic 74-60 Friday night. Chris Lykes scored 15 points and freshman guard Harlond Beverly added 14 points to lead Miami.

“Not everyone is going to come out for the first game and be perfect,” said Hurricanes forward Sam Waardenburg, who finished with nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds. “Every game you’re going to learn something. Louisville we learned a lot. Tonight we learned as well.”

The Hurricanes withstood a challenge from Florida Atlantic and secured the win with a 12-0 run late in the second half. Consecutive 3-pointers from Beverly and Dejan Vasiljevic capped the run for a 67-50 lead with 5:08 remaining.

Rodney Miller was Miami’s third double figure scorer with a career-high 12 points.

“We were able to build up the lead and then do a nice job in the second half of sustaining the lead,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “They made a run and we were able to fight back and finish strong.”

The Owls (1-1) rallied from a 16-point deficit early in the second half with an 18-5 spurt. Madiaw Niang’s lay-up with 10:29 left reduced Miami’s lead to 51-48.

Karlis Silins scored 12 points for Florida Atlantic.

“I thought we made a really good run in the second half to make the game interesting and Miami responded like a good veteran well-led team,” Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May said. “Like most young teams our offense fueled our defense. We started playing with much more of an edge.”

Lykes scored six points in the first 3:14 of the second half to give Miami a 43-28 lead. Vasiljevic’s 3-pointer with 16:20 remaining increased the lead to 46-30. The guards’ early second half output overcame a difficult first half for both. Lykes scored four points and Vasiljevic was scoreless in the first half.

“You’re always concerned at halftime as a coach when your two leading scorers really haven’t done much” Larranaga said.

Beverly’s two free throws with 1:14 remaining capped an 8-0 run gave the Hurricanes’ their largest lead of the first half at 33-24. Miami regained its nine-point advantage and led 35-26 at halftime after Isaiah Wong’s two free throws with 13 seconds left.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT:

The Hurricanes limited the Owls to 35 percent shooting and 27 percent from beyond the arc. In Tuesday’s season-opener Louisville shot 54 percent and 47 percent on 3-pointers.

“We’re not a strong defensive team yet,” Larranaga said. “Hopefully, we’re improving. I thought tonight we did some things better defensively than we did on Tuesday night. Florida Atlantic came in with a very aggressive mindset and really attacked us.”

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE:

With only one senior on his roster, May values the importance of playing early-season games against Power Five opponents.

“We got knocked off balance a few times,” May said. “This is something with inexperienced guys that you learn from and grow from it. It definitely made us a better team tonight.”

BIG PICTURE:

Florida Atlantic: the Owls’ roster features a significant international presence. Karlis Silins, of Latvia, Senegal’s Madiaw Niang and Canada’s Richardson Maitre started Friday. Reserves Aleksandar Zecevic, of Serbia, and Kosovo’s Dardan Kapiti, played 19 and four minutes, respectively.

Miami: freshmen will figure prominently in the Hurricanes’ rotation after an absence last season. Wong, Beverly and Anthony Walker were high school seniors last years and already have played more than 12 minutes in their first two college games.

UP NEXT:

Florida Atlantic: the Owls conclude their two-game Power Five road set Monday at Alabama.

Miami: the Hurricanes play their first road game of the season Tuesday at Central Florida.

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