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Miami down several players for matchup with Pitt

Chris Lykes, Matt Cross, Deng Gak, Kam McGusty and Rodney Miller are all expected to miss the Pitt-Miami game

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 12 Pitt at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pitt men’s basketball team is set to face Miami in its ACC opener Wednesday night, but the Hurricanes team the Panthers take on in Coral Gables will be severely depleted, as five of its players are expected to miss the game.

The five Hurricanes expected to sit out include Matt Cross, Deng Gak, Kam McGusty, Rodney Miller and last season’s top scorer Chris Lykes, according to Cal Friedman of Miami’s student radio station, WVUM, and their absences are due to various injuries. However, Miami will still have current top scorer Isaiah Wong available and could see Stony Brook Elijah Olaniyi made eligible by an NCAA ruling on Wednesday.

Lykes, who is sidelined with an ankle injury, has faced Pitt on four previous occasions, and in those matchups, he has averaged 10.8 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game against the Panthers. However, Miller, who is out with a knee injury, may be missed even more, as he had four rebounds, two steals, one block and one assist and led Miami with 16 points when the two teams last met in February.

Perhaps the most succinct summation of what the absences will cost Miami came from Stephen Thompson, the assistant sports editor of the Pitt News. He noted that the five missing Miami players account for 53 percent of the team’s points, 40 percent of its rebounds and 68 percent of its assists. So the loss of that production may well be devastating.

But with that said, Miami last faced Pitt with a starting lineup of Isaiah Wong, Dejan Vasiljevic, Harlond Beverly, Sam Waardenburg and Rodney Miller, with Keith Stone, Anthony Walker and Willie Herenton as reserves. And with that lineup, Miami played Pitt close in a game the Panthers won 62-57. So even with the injury news and Pitt entering the matchup as a three-point favorite, it would likely be unwise to count Miami out of this matchup.