Wed, 27 Jan 2021

Miami backcourt looks to race past Stetson

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2020, 13:05 GMT+10

Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty are the senior guards who start for the Miami Hurricanes, at the point and on the wing, respectively.

But it is Miami's sophomore guards, Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong, who appear to have made the most strides since last season.

Wong and Beverly, who combinedfor 31 points in Miami's season-opening win over North Florida on Sunday, are set to lead the Hurricanes (1-0) at home on Friday night against the Stetson Hatters (0-1).

Beverly, who had 11 points, a career-high 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals in just 21 minutes against the Ospreys, said there was a reason why he's coming off his first collegiate double-double.

"I was locked in defensively, and my effort was really good," said Beverly, a 6-foot-5, 185-pounder from Detroit. "I made a lot of effort plays, and that usually shows up on the defensive end."

Beverly said Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga has been preaching defense to him since he arrived on campus. Those speeches are finally proving effective, and Beverly -- known more as a hard charger to the rim as opposed to a pure shooter -- was also efficient against North Florida. He made 4 of 7 shots from the floor and sank his only attempt from 3-point range.

Wong, who also attacks the rim, scored a team-high 20 points and added seven rebounds and two assists. He made 9 of 14 shots from the floor despite missing all three of his 3-point attempts.

Miami also got impressive play from true freshman Matt Cross, a 6-7 wing who scored 10 points in his collegiate debut, making 4 of 5 shots from the floor, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Lykes, a preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference player, had an off night (3-for-13), and the same goes for McGusty (3-for-8). But if they get going, Miami's perimeter game could be stacked.

The Hurricanes, who have been playing Stetson since their first varsity season in 1927-28, leads the series 49-33. Miami is 9-0 against Stetson since reviving its program in 1985.

Still, Beverly said the Canes won't overlook the Hatters.

"We try to take every game as if it were the biggest one of our lives," he said.

Stetson, picked to finish third in the Atlantic Sun after making it to the conference semifinals last season, got off to a disappointing 2020-21 start on Monday with a 64-61 home loss to Emmanuel College, an NCAA Division II team.

Rob Perry, Stetson's 6-4, 210-pound sophomore guard, scored 26 points against Emmanuel, continuing his fine play. Last season, he was the ASUN's Freshman of the Year, leading the Hatters in scoring (15.1) and pacing the conference in 3-point shooting (42.6 percent).

However, in the loss to Emmanuel, the Hatters went cold to start the second half, missing 14 of their first 15 shots.

Besides Perry, another bright spot was the play of 6-10, 250-pound sophomore Mahamadou Diawara, who had 10 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

In addition, Stetson played all six of its freshmen, including three who started: 6-2 guards Chase Johnston and Stephan Swenson and 6-8 forward Josh Smith. The six freshmen combined to post 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists on Monday.

"We're even younger this year than last season," Perry said. "I have to take my leadership abilities to the next level."

--Field Level Media

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