Hurricanes rally late for sixth straight victory

It wasn’t easy, but the Hurricanes walked off their home court with another conference win.

In need of a quick spark, Miami blazed on a late 18-2 run in a 91-83 victory over NC State Wednesday night at the Watsco Center.

“I thought that was an incredibly exciting college basketball game, and a heck of a home court victory for us,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “I was so impressed with NC State’s speed, quickness and athletic ability, and how they were able to attack the basket with their dribble drives and their offensive rebounding.”

The Hurricanes (10-3, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed by eight points with 11 minutes left and a five-game win streak on the line.

Moments later, their veterans stepped up to deliver the Wolfpack (7-6, 0-2 ACC) a knockout blow. Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong drilled back-to-back 3-point field goals, putting the Hurricanes ahead for the final 4:39.

“I think with Isaiah, there’s a very fine balance between really being aggressive and looking to score, and then really looking to create for his teammates, and he’s doing a good job of both,” Larrañaga said. “But in the last 10 minutes, when the game was on the line, we asked him to just step it up, and [have] he and Kam [McGusty] take over. And they both did.”

Wong scored 15 points after halftime, including a right-handed dunk on an offensive rebound to send the arena into a frenzy. The Preseason First Team All-ACC honoree was one of four Hurricanes to finish with double digits in the scoring column.

“That dunk really got my energy up, it got the whole team’s energy up and it gave me a boost in my confidence,” Wong said. “Seeing the crowd get hyped and the players get hyped, we picked up on our defense and we picked up on our scoring, too.”

Junior forward Jordan Miller erupted for a season-high 25 points and buried a three with 2:40 to play as part of UM’s 10-of-19 3-point attack.

“I always want to give credit to my teammates; they found me,” Miller said. “I think my teammates are trusting me a lot more. The rim just felt big tonight. I got it going a little bit and decided to stay aggressive. I’m looking to build off of this and stay consistent, it’s just one game.”

NC State pressured Miami throughout the first half, converting a six-point deficit into a one-point advantage at halftime. The two teams traded baskets through the final 6 ½ minutes, until UM erased the deficit and pulled away.

Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty produced his fourth career double-double. The former Oklahoma transfer collected 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to help guide the Hurricanes.

After posting 11 offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance points in the first half, NC State lacked scoring offense in the final minutes. The Wolfpack missed nine of their final 12 shots and the Hurricanes shot over 64% from the field in the second half.

Forward Jericole Hellems led the Wolfpack with 24 points, while guard Dereon Seabron contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Walker logged all of his 11 points and four rebounds in the second half in place of sixth-year redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg, who was sidelined with freshman guard Wooga Poplar due to the ACC’s health and safety protocol.

“You’re supposed to step up when your number is called, and I think he did a great job of that tonight,” Miller said. “Ant’s one of those people that’s always involved, always going to contribute one way or another. I think tonight he really showed he can contribute just as much as all of us.”

With the victory, Miami holds a 2-0 start in ACC competition for the first time since 2015. The Hurricanes are winners of six straight contests after a four-year drought.

“I think this team is really together, and they really trust each other,” Larrañaga said. “So, they know that tomorrow and Friday are preparation days, and that we’ve got to get ready for Wake Forest. This one’s already behind us. We feel good about the win tonight, but would feel much better if we played just as hard and just as well on Saturday.”

Next, Miami is back at home to host Wake Forest on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.