Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
TV: The ACC Network
Virginia Tech will look to get back to its winning ways tonight against a Miami team that has lost four games in a row and six of the last seven. The Hurricanes (10-9, 2-7) are tied with Wake Forest for last place in the ACC.
After three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2016, 2017 and 2018, Jim Larranaga’s Miami program seems to have hit a wall. The Hurricanes went just 14-18 last season, and are in danger of finishing with a losing record for the second year in a row after never having a losing record at all during the first seven years of Larranaga’s tenure. Of course, some of the reasons for the Hurricanes’ struggles this year are out of his control.
Like many other teams around the league, Miami has an injury problem right now. Two players are definitely out for Tuesday night’s game…
C Deng Gak: Torn meniscus in December
F Keith Stone: Left knee injury in January
Two others are questionable, and they are arguably Miami’s best two players. Guard Chris Lykes (5-7, 165, Jr.) and guard Kameron McGusty (6-5, 192, r-Jr.) both missed the Hurricanes’ most recent loss to North Carolina. In fact, they are Miami’s two leading scorers, averaging 15.7 points and 14.5 points respectively. Their absence would give Miami only one double-digit scorer, guard DJ Vasiljevic (6-3, 190, Sr.), who averages 14.2 points.
Lykes and McGusty would be big losses for the Hurricanes, though even without them there is still enough pure talent on this Miami roster to score enough to win some games. They rank No. 38 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 53 in turnover percentage. However, their performance on the defensive end of the court this season has been very poor. Take a look at these numbers…
Adj. Def. Efficiency: No. 247
2-pt. Def.%: No. 234
3-Pt. Def.%: No. 268
Def. Effective FG%: No. 268
Opp. Off. Rebound%: No. 325
Opp. Turnover%: No. 274
Generally speaking, the Hurricanes give up plenty of clean looks at the basket, they can’t keep the opposition off the offensive glass, and they don’t force turnovers. Though the Hokies won’t crash the boards very often because of their lack of size, this is an opportunity for redshirt freshman guard Tyrece Radford to play to his advantage on the offensive glass. It also represents a good opportunity for the team as a whole to bounce back offensively after a tough day on that end of the court against Boston College.
A victory would move the Hokies to 15-6 overall and 6-4 in conference play. However, a loss would mean a second consecutive defeat at the hands of a lower-level ACC team that had previously lost four games in a row.