CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)Miami Hurricanes senior guard DJ Vasiljevic launched the final shot of his home career and triumphantly raised his fist even before the ball swished through the net.
Vasiljevic’s two free throws with two seconds left in overtime Saturday sealed Miami’s 69-65 victory over Syracuse.
”I wanted everyone to know the game was over,” Vasiljevic said. ”I was a little emotional, I’m not going to lie. To get on that free throw line and score the last point, it means a lot.”
Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes, the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference, took a blow to the head and sat out after halftime. He played all 20 minutes in the first half and scored eight points.
”He was a little dizzy, a little blurry,” coach Jim Boeheim said.
Miami (15-15, 7-13 ACC) broke a three-game losing streak heading into the league tournament. Syracuse (17-14, 10-10) finished at .500 or worse in the conference for the fourth time in the past six years.
The Orange’s 14 losses are the most in the regular season Boeheim has had in his 44 years at Syracuse. And again, a big problem was shooting – the Orange made only 37 percent, and went 5 for 25 from 3-point range.
”We haven’t shot the ball well for a long time, so I don’t think it’s a surprise,” Boeheim said. ”We’re just not making enough shots to win.”
Isaiah Wong had 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals for Miami. The 6-3 freshman helped run the offense in place of an injured Chris Lykes, the Hurricanes’ leading scorer this season.
”I would like for Lykes to play,” Boeheim said. ”Wong is bigger and more difficult for us. Lykes is a really good player, but Wong is more of a concern because he’s bigger and gets to the basket.”
Vasiljevic made five 3-pointers to climb into second place on the school’s all-time list, and he scored 17 points. His sister and two best friends from his native Australia were part of the crowd.
Miami missed 12 consecutive shots against Syracuse’s zone early in the second half and went nearly eight minutes without a field goal before Vasiljevic sank three consecutive 3-pointers for a 39-all tie.
Afterward, Hurricanes coach Jim Larranagagrinned as he recalled Vasiljevic jump-starting the offense.
”My coaches were saying to me, `We just need to get the ball to DJ and let him shoot every shot,”’ Larranaga said.
The Hurricanes saved their best shooting for overtime, when they went 3 for 6. They shot 37 percent for the game.
Syracuse’s Joe Girard sank a 15-footer with 1 second left to make the score 56-all and force overtime, but the Orange’s first basket in the extra period came with 23 seconds left. They went 0 for 4 from 3-point range in overtime.
Marek Dolezaj led Syracuse with 17 points.
Hurricanes forward Keith Stone, operating in the middle of the Syracuse zone, dished out a season-high six assists.
”I don’t look at people when I pass,” Stone said. ”I tell them beforehand, ‘Just expect it. I’m not looking at you.”’
The Hurricanes had a season-high 18 assists.
Lykes took an elbow to the nose in Wednesday’s loss to Virginia, suffered facial injuries and likely will miss the league tournament.
The Orange fell to 56-54 in the ACC in the past six seasons.
With the Hurricanes unlikely to make the postseason, they probably need to win one game in the league tournament to avoid a second consecutive losing season, which hasn’t happened to Larranaga since 1991-93 at Bowling Green.
Both teams will play in the ACC Tournament next week in Greensboro, North Carolina. Miami, seeded ninth, will play No. 8 Clemson in the first round Wednesday.
The Orange, seeded sixth, have a first-round bye. Hughes’ status for their first game is uncertain.
”He’s gotten hit in the head 20 times this year,” Boeheim said.
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