Miami offense cruises past Stephen F. Austin, 96-58

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — From the game’s initial possessions, Ebuka Izundu anticipated a special performance. Izundu scored and rebounded early and didn’t stop until the stat sheet displayed totals unfamiliar to the Miami center.

Izundu had career highs with 22 points and 18 rebounds as the Hurricanes defeated Stephen F. Austin 96-58 Tuesday night.

“Thanks to my teammates, they gave me the ball early,” Izundu sad. “I just kept scoring.”

Izundu’s previous career scoring high was a 16-point performance at North Carolina State Feb. 4, 2017. The rebound performance eclipsed Izundu’s previous best of 10 against Gardner Webb Nov. 10, 2017.

“I think I did well but there is plenty more to come,” said Izundu, who averaged 3.7 points in his first three seasons at Miami.

The Hurricanes (2-0) were never threatened by the Lumberjacks after a 19-5 spurt midway through the first half. DJ Vasiljevic’s third consecutive 3-pointer with 8:54 remaining capped the run and increased Miami’s lead to 30-13.

Izundu shot 11-of-13 from the field and also blocked four shots. Vasiljevic finished with 17 points and shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc.

“Ebuka Izundu was just sensational on both ends of the court,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “His defense activity, blocked shots, deflections, defensive rebounds and then his production on the offensive end.

“I think he plays like that all the time but except sometimes he doesn’t look to score. He’s not as aggressive. But today he was aggressive from start to finish, looking to catch the ball. And his teammates were looking for him. I love to see him play that way.”

Chris Lykes scored 20 points and Anthony Lawrence finished with 18 points for Miami (2-0). Zach Johnson was the Hurricanes’ fifth scorer in double figures with 15.

Lykes’ short jumper with 55 seconds remaining gave the Hurricanes a 53-32 lead at halftime.

“We did really good the whole game,” Izundu said. “I was really proud of us. We came out strong and kept punching them the whole game.”

Karl Nicholas scored 15 points to lead the Lumberjacks (2-1).

POINT GUARD EFFICIENCY:

Lykes and Johnson finished with six and five assists, respectively. “A lot of credit goes to Chris Lykes and Zach Johnson, who really controlled the tempo on offense for us,” Larranaga said. “They shared the ball. They scored the ball.”

INJURY WOES CONTINUE FOR LUMBERJACKS:

Starting forwad Samuli Nieminen injured his right shoulder diving for a loose ball late in the first half and didn’t return. The junior from Helsinki, Finland wore an ice pack over his injured shoulder during the second half. The Lumberjacks already are missing forward TJ Holyfield for the season with a shoulder injury, while guard Aaron Augustin remains sidelined because of an arm injury sustained during a pre-season scrimmage and guard John Comeaux recovers from off-season knee surgery.

BIG PICTURE:

Stephen F. Austin: Tuesday’s game was the Lumberjacks’ first regular season contest against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Stephen F. Austin lost a second-round NCAA tournament game against Notre Dame in 2016.

Miami: forward Dewan Hernandez missed his second game as the school and the NCAA continue to review his eligibility. Hernandez, the Hurricanes’ top returning scorer, declared for the 2018 NBA draft but did not retain an agent. Hernandez withdrew from the draft and returned to Miami for his junior season.

UP NEXT:

Stephen F. Austin: the Lumberjacks return home to face Marist November 20.

Miami: the Hurricanes conclude their three-game homestand Saturday against Bethune Cookman.