DJ Vasiljevic scored 21 points and Anthony Lawrence II pumped in 20 as Miami defeated Wake Forest 79-71 in the opener of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Tuesday afternoon at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Miami meets No. 16 Virginia Tech, the fifth seed, on Wednesday afternoon in the second round.
Chris Lykes added 13 points and Zach Johnson chipped in 12 points for 12th-seeded Miami (14-17), which didn’t crumble down the stretch as it did two weeks earlier in a loss to the 13th-seeded Demon Deacons. Lawrence also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Jaylen Hoard and Brandon Childress each scored 16 points, Chaundee Brown added 13 points and Torry Johnson and Isaiah Mucius had 10 points apiece for 13th-seeded Wake Forest, which dropped to 1-5 in ACC Tournament games under coach Danny Manning.
The Demon Deacons lost their final four games. They finished the season with an 11-20 record for the second year in a row.
Miami used a 10-2 run early in the second half for a nine-point advantage. Most of an 11-point lead vanished when Wake Forest pulled within 70-66 with about four minutes left.
It never got closer, though Wake Forest whiffed on a couple of possessions with a chance to narrow the Hurricanes’ lead.
Miami shot 50.9 percent from the field and made enough free throws (18 of 25 for the game) to maintain a second-half lead.
Miami led 34-31 at halftime, with Vasiljevic and Childress each with 12 points by the break. Vasiljevic’s 3-pointer gave the Hurricanes the lead after Childress tied the score seconds earlier.
Wake Forest shot 50 percent from the field in the first half but was charged with nine turnovers. This came one game after matching a season-low total for turnovers with eight Saturday against Florida State.
Miami and Wake Forest split two regular-season games. Wake Forest’s victory came Feb. 26 when it wiped out a 10-point hole in the final two minutes at home to win 76-75.
—Field Level Media