Fueled by a furious 2nd half, the 'Canes (4-1) defeated Michigan State (5-2) in their biggest test of the young season. Miami also extended their winning streak to 3 games after the painful debacle at FGCU 2 weeks ago.
Now that debacle looks more and more like a call to arms...
In essence, this game can be broken down into two halves. In the first Miami was competitive; in the second the 'Canes were flat out awesome. Durand Scott (15pts, 6reb, 2ast) was on fire early, scoring 9 of Miami's first 11 points. Scott has definitely matured as a player during his time as a 'Cane and his ability to control a game has been a big part of the equation. Scott - if he doesn't have a nickname already - should be called GPS, Garmin, or Magellan due to his uncanny ability to get to the rim no matter what obstacles litter his path. He modifies the length of his strides, his body and arm angles, and contorts his way to the rack.
Trey McKinney-Jones (18pts, 1reb) was on Swiss-Army Knifeness from beyond the arc for the entire game. He went 5-7 from downtown and each shot seemed to suck the life out of Michigan State. TMJ - or the Swiss Army Knife - used the 3-point lock-on tool from his arsenal and decimated the Spartans from long range.
Still, despite Scott's first half flurry, TMJ's marksmanship, and Reggie Johnson's (10pts,11reb, 1ast, 3blk) tough interior defense against the MSU bigs, the 'Canes found themselves down 31-27. Just before the half ended, MSU was given 2 free points by the refs on a horrendously botched no-call that led to an easy offensive rebound and bucket. Coach Larranaga was visibly angry with the no-call and the 'Canes, despite playing very competitively, were down by 4 heading into the locker room.
Whatever went on in the locker room at the half seemed to galvanize the 'Canes. Coach Larranaga's squad came out fired up on defense. Johnson was big the 1st half, but he was monstrous inside in the 2nd. Shane Larkin (15pts, 1reb, 2ast, 4stl) took over offensively at the beginning of the latter frame. He made an assortment of shots and his relentless pressure gave MSU's top scorer, Keith Appling (15pts, 5reb, 4ast, 1stl) fits.
After the game, MSU coach Tom Izzo mentioned that Appling got tired and credited Miami's defense with making that happen. As the game wore on the buzz inside the BUC was surreal. Miami's lead kept growing - and then it was maintained. No matter what the Spartans did, the 'Canes answered back. They were cool down the stretch and would not be denied victory.
In Coach Larranaga's 1+ seasons of experience, the 'Canes have already delivered some big wins, namely the home win vs. FSU and the win over Duke at Cameron. But this win might end up being the best of all come Selection Sunday. 'Canes fans - root for MSU the rest of the way...
Player of the Game: Damn this is hard. Overall, I'm going to go with TMJ. His bombs from beyond the arc all seemed to come at absolutely perfect times for Miami, and at terrible, awful and catastrophic for Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
Offensive Player of the Game: Even though Scott had a ridiculous spurt in the 1st half and Larkin had one in the 2nd, TMJ gets the nod.
Defensive Player of the Game: Again, another tough call. The fact that Derrick Nix (3pts, 5reb, 1ast, 1stl) and Adreain Payne (4pts, 5reb, 1blk) produced way less than their averages was a huge testament to Reggie Johnson's effort.
The Good: There's so much. The whole 2nd half. In particular,going 16-18 from the charity stripe is a GOOD thing.
The Bad: Miami got mauled on the offensive glass.
The Ugly: There's nothing ugly so let's do the reverse. The student section was awesome. Kudos to you guys! The rest of the arena really made some noise - which was great. At one point it got so loud that the vibration hard-disc protection thingy on my computer triggered a minor alert.
Points of Interest: Very early in the game, Derrick Nix slapped his hands on the floor to encourage his team. It seemed like a premature time for emotion being that the game had literally just started. After Larkin's scoring surge, Miami turned a halftime deficit into a 38-33 lead. After MSU called a time out, the 'Canes forced a shot-clock violation thanks to tough defense and a big block by Kenny Kadji. Rion Brown nailed a three-pointer and was 1-2 from beyond the arc.
Let us all rejoice...
|Percentages||.407||.429||.455||Team Rebounds: 4|
|T. McKinney Jones||34||5-8||5-7||3-4||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||18|
|Percentages||.477||.562||.889||Team Rebounds: 3|
- Technical Fouls: None
- Arena: BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, FL
- Attendance: 5,791
- Officials: Roger Ayers, Les Jones, Ed Corbett
- Next Game: The 'Canes head to Amhurst, MA to take on UMASS on Saturday, December 1st @ 2pm.