The #10 Miami Hurricanes came out with a huge road victory Wednesday night over #12 Minnesota, 86–81, part of the annual ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Miami’s non-conference schedule is no doubt light, but this win shows that they are a for-real ACC contender (and national contender). The win is a huge first step towards building their March Madness resume, as Minnesota is a very good basketball team that will have a lot of success in the Big 10 during a slightly down year for the conference.
Here are 5 takeaways I had from the win:
- Miami’s guard depth might be the best in the nation: The Canes typically start 3 guards with senior Ja’Quan Newton and sophomores Bruce Brown Jr. and D.J. Vasiljevic. Freshmen Lonnie Walker IV and Chris Lykes come off the bench. Here’s the thing — any of these guys could start. Yes, Brown and Walker are likely to be first round draft picks come June, but all 5 guards bring a playmaking ability.
- Ja’Quan Newton played his best game as a Hurricane: Ja’Quan Newton has been a very good Cane in his career, but it’s no secret he has had major struggles with his ball distribution. Newton finished the game with 9 assists and 1 turnover and looked fluid as a ball handler. Newton still struggles with free throws and shooting in general, but Miami does not need Newton to be a scorer. They need him to distribute the ball and he did just that last night.
- Dewan Huell is a different player from last year: The sophomore was a McDonald’s All-American two years ago, but struggled adjusting to the college game in his first season as a Hurricane. Huell announced himself to the nation last night as he finished with 23 points, including a massive dunk over Reggie Lynch. Huell is incredibly athletic and has made huge strides with his low-post moves. Watching him last year, it was clear he struggled with the speed of the game. He often looked unprepared for passes and played passively on the boards. Miami needed this type of leap from Huell after losing a very good low-post player in Kamari Murphy.
- Chris Lykes is one of the most exciting freshmen in the country: It seems funny to say this, given that Miami has a potential one-and-done freshman with Lonnie Walker, but Lykes is electric. It’s a well established fact that Lykes is very short (listed at 5’7″ on the roster) but he is a baller. Lykes is relentless on defense, not afraid of contact, and lightning quick. The physicality of the college game has been no problem for Lykes who has already had some really impressive finishes at the rim. He is a just an incredibly fluid athlete.
- Wait until Miami starts making free throws: Miami has struggled MASSIVELY with free throws to start the season. They are currently shooting 57% which is good for 350th out of 351 Division 1 teams. Ouch. The bright side is that there is NO WAY this will continue (hopefully). The free-throw percentage will surely climb back up to what they are actually capable of. The missed free-throws really make Canes fans miss guys like Davon Reed. When Miami starts making free throws, they will be even better than what they have already shown in their impressive 6–0 start.