At times it seemed like the Miami Hurricanes Basketball team was waiting to see the whites of the Minutemen's eyes for they kept UMass in the game far too long. The Minutemen jumped out to an early lead and held it until the final 2 minutes of the first half when the Canes ended the period on an 11-3 run with a 5 point advantage heading into the locker room.
It was more of the same back and forth to start the second half as the Canes couldn't grow their lead beyond 5 points. With 11 to go in the game, the Minutemen launched their counteroffensive and went on an 8-3 run over the next 3 minutes putting them on top of the Canes 52-51. That proved to be the only time in the second half that the Minutemen would lead again. Back to back three pointers by Rion Brown and Kenny Kadji put the Canes up by 4 then after Williams hit one of two free throws Reggie Johnson found himself top of the key with the UMass defense swarming his teammates on defense. Reggie wisely and forcefully drove the lane and powered to the hoop for a layup and a foul. He converted the 3 point play to give the Canes their biggest lead of the game. This proved to be the moral booster the Canes needed and the final straw for the Minutemen as for the final 6 minutes it was all Miami.
The scrappy Minutemen were tough as we had expected, Chaz Williams is probably the quickest point guard the Canes and Shane Larkin will face this year. Tough defense by both Larkin and Durand Scott kept the UMass leading scorer to only 11 points but Chaz did dish out 10 assists. Terrell Vinson led UMass with 14 points and 11 rebounds and gave the Miami big men fits on the boards with his quickness as Vinson had 6 offensive rebounds.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny Kadji who played the game well with a heavy heart as his grandfather passed away just the night before. Kenny played his heart out and contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds to the effort. Four players finished with double digit scoring, Kadji, Scott (15pts, 7 boards, 4 assists), Larkin (14 pts, 6 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals) but it was Reggie Johnson who dominated play with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. The Minutemen had no answer for Reggie down low and he proved to be the key to the game.
If Reggie can play that aggressively the rest of the season the Canes will be a very tough out.