Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
After a slew of close wins, and a bad loss to Wake Forest, Hurricanes Hoops got back into form with a dominant win over Va Tech.
All is right once again in Coral Gables. Behind terrific efforts from Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadj and refocused effort on the defensive end, Miami blasted Virginia Tech in front of a packed Bank United Center.
Durand Scott was a surprise non starter, it was reported on Fox Sports South that he was late to the shoot-around. Nonetheless Miami was hot to start, hitting four of their first five shots. Rion Brown did a good job defending VT superstar Erick Green in Scott's place and Shane Larkin had 5 quick points during a 9-2 run to open the game.
But just when all seemed right in the 'Canes world, a 9 minute plus FG drought got the Hokies right back in the game. Jarrell Eddie's FT cut it to 13-10. 7 early turnovers were killer. Luckily for Miami, Va Tech was equally sloppy. Durand Scot finally made a left handed scoop to break the drought and extend to a 21-14 lead. With the cover finally off the lid, UM went on a huge run that extended to a 10 point lead when Shane Larkin converted a layup off a steal.
The run continued behind outstanding defense and superb FT shooting. Kenny Kadji hit just the second 3 of the half for Miami to build the lead to 33-18. Shane Larkin followed with a deep one of his own to build the lead to 18. Trey McKinney Jones added a beautiful tap in at the halftime buzzer as the Hurricanes finished the first 20 minutes up 38-19.
Larkin led the way for UM with 12 big first half points. The nation's leading scorer Green, had just 6 hard earned points for VT. Miami was 15-17 from the line in the opening stanza.
In the second half, Green tried to get the Hokies back in it, but Larkin and Kadji had the answers. Green made a couple of pull up jumpers but Larkin's had a deep three, that proceeded a nifty steal triggerring a 3-1 break that Scott finished. Kadji swished a three a minute later and the lead ballooned to 54-30 when K2 dunked off a beautiful post move. Miami had finally found their mid-season form!!
VT went zone for periods of the second half, but Larkin and the 'Canes crisp passing sliced and diced it to shreds. With 9 minutes remaining the lead was 63-39 and that was basically all she wrote. VT did make a mini run, but with Coach Larranaga imploring the players to finish strong, the game was never in doubt.
UM's next game promises to be a bit closer. Duke Vitale, Coach K, and Seth Curry all promise to remember the floor slap, 27 points and, "layup after layup after layup."
But if Miami plays their game, and they seem to have re-discovered it, all of that may not matter. We shall see.
Player of the Game: Shane Larkin (22 points 6 assists unofficially) was efficient and cool offensively, and contributed largely to keeping Green (16 tough points) from exploding. Kadji (20 points) also could have taken the honor.
The Good: The defense was miles better then the Wake Forest game. FT shooting had been an achilles heel all year. 22-30 was a step in the right direction.
The Bad: We absolutely love Durand Scott. But in the midst of a shooting slump, there is no excuse for UM's senior guard and team leader to be late for a shoot-around,
The Ugly: It looked like Reggie Johnson drew a charge on 3 separate occasions. All three times there was either a non call of Miami's big man drew the foul.
Next Game: As if you didn't know, The 'Canes head to Durham to take on the Devils, Saturday 3/2 6PM EST.
|Joey Van Zegeren||1-2||0-0||0-0||2||3||1||3||2|
|Trey McKinney Jones||4-8||1-5||2-2||2||4||0||4||11|
- Technical Fouls:
- BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, FL