2017 ACC Tournament: Five takeaways from Miami’s 62-57 win over Syracuse

DJ Vasiljevic had a hot hand in Brooklyn. (UM Athletics)

DJ Vasiljevic had a hot hand in Brooklyn. (UM Athletics)

The Hurricanes opened the ACC Tournament with a bang, snatching a 62-57 win over Syracuse as the underdog in a noontime Wednesday 8-vs.-9 matchup at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Hurricanes (21-10), who like Syracuse (18-14) went 10-8 in regular-season conference play, meet top-seeded and sixth-ranked North Carolina at noon Thursday. That game, a rematch of Miami’s 77-62 win in Coral Gables over the ninth-ranked Tar Heels on Jan. 28, could help boost UM even higher come Selection Sunday.

Five takeaways:

Hot start, shaky close: Miami won this game based on its first 20, not last 20. The Hurricanes shot 62 percent from the floor in the first half, its best first half of shooting this season, and made 6-of-11 threes (55 percent). Nearly half of Miami’s 21 field goal attempts were from the outside.

But Syracuse went on a 13-4 run to start the second half and briefly took the lead, thanks in part to Miami’s 2-of-12 shooting start.

Coach Jim Larranaga said on ACC Network after that Cuse’s defense wouldn’t let Miami get the ball to the paint, “but D.J. Vasiljevic has great range, and we threw it to him and he made the threes.”

In a slow-tempo, 3-ball-heavy game, Miami hit nine triples to Syracuse’s seven. Those shots were critical, since UM was saddled with the double-bonus for the last 4:42 of the game, the Orange were playing to solidify their spot in the tournament, and UM was a bit shorthanded, since freshman Dewan Huell sat out after rolling his ankle last Saturday at Florida State (he was eligible to play, a source said, and could return tomorrow).

UM had a slight edge in rebounds (31-26, including 9-4 on the offensive glass) and had eight turnovers to Syracuse’s 10.

Big homecoming: No doubt senior forward Kamari Murphy, a Brooklyn native who played at Lincoln High at the south end of the borough, was fired up about playing at home. He shined, putting up a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. He scored in double figures for the sixth time in his last nine games, and recorded his fourth double-double of the year.

An improving shooter, he hit a few jumpers to keep the D honest. He drew two fouls in the second half after grabbing missed Miami 3s, and after Syracuse cut it to 53-52 with 4:06 left, he made his loudest play of the afternoon. Murphy sprinted to the basket and caught a perimeter lob from Lawrence, threw down a jam and hollered. The Hurricanes tried a few lobs without success before that.

Anything else? Oh, yeah: the least-reliable of Miami’s regulars at the line, Murphy (59.0 percent) went 4-for-4.

“He’s been playing great,” Larranaga said, calling Murphy’s game a “typical” outing for him of late. “He’s really playing at a high level right now.”

Hey DJ: So, Vasiljevic knows he can play against Syracuse. The freshman from Melbourne, Australia once again had the hottest hand against the Orange. He scored 13 points on 3-of-7 threes (4-of-6 from the floor), and helped Miami stay afloat after it briefly lost its game-long lead with a 2-of-12 shooting stretch to start the second half.

On a Tyus Battle 3, the Orange took its first lead since 4-0, at 41-40 with 12:13 left. Syracuse was on a 13-4 run. Not only that, UM was whistled for five second-half fouls. None against Cuse.

Larranaga had seen enough. Whether the play was meant for Vasiljevic, he was there. He popped a 3 to put Miami back on top to stay, at 43-41. Ont the next possession, he hit another from even further out, with 1 second left on the shot clock. The next Cuse possession, he drew a push-off foul on Battle.

Against ACC teams this year, Vasiljevic has been in double-figures four times: Syracuse (career-high 18 on Jan. 4; 13 on Wednesday), Georgia Tech (13) and Virginia (10). Newton was suspended for the latter two games, helping him play career-highs in minutes (29 and 28, respectively). He may not be a major factor against UNC on Thursday (he had 3 points in 14 minutes in the previous meeting, and Newton’s back), but he’s more than proven his worth as a weapon off the bench.

Reed good, not great: Davon Reed, who accepted the ACC’s top academic honor, the Skip Prosser Award, in a pregame ceremony, has been Miami’s most reliable player all year. He was outstanding in the first half, and slipped a bit in the second. He scored 10 points in 20 first-half minutes, and finished with 14 and 37 minutes of work. He had a tough time corralling Andrew White (22 points, five rebounds). However, Miami wanted him on the line at the end.

In a critical finishing sequence, Lawrence got him the inbounds, which the Orange didn’t defend, and he sank one of two free throws with 7.7 seconds left. Syracuse’s John Gillon clanked a 3 attempt in the final seconds, and Bruce Brown sank a pair after he was fouled.

Newton back: It’s been a tough couple games for Ja’Quan Newton, who shot 4-for-22 in three games following his three-game suspension. Wednesday, he was 5-for-9 for 11 points, with four rebounds, six assists and a steal.

Perhaps best of all, he had one turnover — just the second time since mid-December he committed fewer than two. He averages 3.5. Miami had him in the high post early against Cuse’s 2-3 zone, and he had several driving layups and hit a 3.

He also factored in a big four-point swing late. Newton grabbed a loose ball off a missed Cuse dunk, raced out and hit Murphy for a slam that put Miami up five with the clock nearing two minutes. Newton’s straight-line drive put the Hurricanes ahead by four in the final minute, before Cuse’s Gillon ran the break and hit a 3 to make it 57-55 with 40 seconds left.

Bonus Boeheim: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had ’em scribbling down his quotes afterward. The City of Greensboro, the traditional host of the now-in-Brooklyn ACC Tournament, took notice.

 

Reader Comments 0

0 comments