Canes win sans captain’s support

Redshirt Junior Angel Rodriguez during February's game against Louisville. Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor
Redshirt Junior Angel Rodriguez during February’s game against Louisville. Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor

An air of uncertainty surrounded the Miami Hurricanes matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Wednesday night. Two of Miami’s key players were listed as injured, and the team’s season outlook remained unclear.

Despite setbacks, the Canes were able to pull off a 67-63 win over the Panthers, led by Sheldon McClellan and Davon Reed, who tied his career-high of 19 points. Miami improved to 19-11 overall and 9-8 in the ACC.

On Feb. 25, team captain Angel Rodriguez sustained a wrist injury while taking a charge against Florida State, but he still remained in the game. In the Hurricanes’ subsequent game against North Carolina, however, he played for only three minutes.

The Hurricanes went on to lose against North Carolina Saturday a hit to the Canes’ run at the NCAA tournament.

To make matters worse, leading scorer McClellan also sustained a groin injury. He still started Wednesday night’s game against Pittsburgh (19-12, 8-9 ACC).

McClellan and Rodriguez are the team’s two leading scorers.  The team has struggled when both players were off the court.

Despite poor performance in the first half, McClellan gained momentum in the second, surpassing Reed’s 19 points with 20 of his own. McClellan attempted 16 two-pointers and made six.

McClellan has been one of the best shooting guards in the nation this season, shooting 51 percent from the field.

In the first three minutes, the Canes jumped to a 7-0 lead, initiated by a three-pointer by Reed. Then, Panthers junior point guard James Robinson sunk a three-point jumper to put them on the board.

The Panthers continued a 9-0 run and Miami ultimately trailed for most of the first half. Miami kept the game close, with the Panthers leading 33-29 at halftime.

ACC leading rebounder Tonye Jekiri had 11 rebounds in the game. Reed dominated in the first half, leading the Canes with 12 points, which is significantly better than his average 7.3 points per game. He shot 7 of 8 from the field and 3 of 3 outside the arc.

This victory was the Hurricanes’ first win at Pittsburgh since 2000 and their first road win since Feb. 15.

The Canes will play their final season game on the road against Virginia Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday.