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McClellan Stars as #17 Miami Basketball Stays Unbeaten, Holds Off Charlotte 77-74

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In a much tighter game, UM makes it 2 for 2 Vs the 49ers.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where Sheldon McClellan was unstoppable, Miami needed every last bit of his efforts to remain undefeated.

From the onset Charlotte seemed determined to make a point.

The 49ers were clearly energized by the return of star G Braxton Ogbueze, not to mention being in their home arena, and got a couple of run outs to jump out to a 6-0 lead.

A pair of three pointers by McClellan got UM on the board, settled them down, and started out his monster night.

Charlotte had a little bounce in their steps though, and built a 21-13 lead 8 minutes in behind 10-17 shooting overall.  Torin Dorn had 7 quick points.

In building the lead, the 49ers seemed to  throw everything but the kitchen sink at Miami in the opening 20 minutes.

Angel Rodriguez was not going to let the 'Canes fall behind too far though, and knocked in back to back bombs to keep things close.

The 'Canes tried to feed off their leader and take control, but Miami really had trouble getting over the hump because Charlotte kept getting in the lane.

The 'Canes biggest early advantage was that they got multiple second chance opportunities with Tonye Jekiri crashing the boards, and they amazingly took a 38-37 lead to the break, despite appearing to be outplayed by the scrappy Niners.

UM trailed by as many as 9 during the first 20, but fought back with McClellan pacing the attack with 10.

8 1st half offensive boards (5 for Jekiri) were huge.

The second half started out helter skelter, with the opening bucket coming off a two-handed jam by McClellan. The play was set up by a great defensive play where Shel-Mac broke up a Charlotte ally hoop attempt at the other end of the floor and was rewarded on the offensive end with a nice feed.

Mike Thorne Jr. made a few nice post moves for the 49ers, but the game was starting to resemble Sunday's Gildan Charleston Classic, where the 'Canes won every battle for loose balls and got out in the open floor time and time again  to open a up a big lead.

The red hot McClellan's 4th triple of the night, was followed by Rodriguez's 3rd, and the lead was suddenly double digits.

UM started the second half 7-7 from the floor.

To the 49ers credit though, they kept finding points in the paint to and stopped  the Hurricanes from completely running away with this one, thus avoiding a complete repeat of Sunday's contest.

However, anytime they got within striking distance, McClellan would answer with either a drive or a jumper to give Miami breathing room.   The junior from Houston, Texas was the best player on the floor tonight.

Not far behind was Manu Lecomte,  who also had the drive and the jumper going.  A clutch 3 pointer by the Belgian sophomore made it 69-60 with 6 minutes to go.

That seemed to finally slow the gutsy 49ers, and two more lightning quick buckets by McClellan moments later increased the lead to 13.

But just when you thought the game was over, Miami went on a 3 minute drought and Charlotte capitalized to slice  the lead was just 4 with 2 to go.

This set the tone for a frantic finish.

The Hurricanes were fortunate that Pierria Henry and Charlotte missed an open three that would have tied things up with just under a minute to go.

But UM missed a couple of FTs that could have iced things and Ogbueze was fouled by Jekiri from deep with 9 seconds left and Miami holding desperately to a 75-72 lead.

Ogbueze swished the first two, but bricked the equalizer.

McClellan rebounded and hit both of his from the charity stripe to put the lead back to three.

At the buzzer Ogbueze got a tough look and could not hit, and UM escaped with a hard fought win.

McClellan finished with a career high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds. Lecomte had 18.

Coach Larranaga seemed relieved in the post game interview.

"Right from the beginning they were terrific"  he observed of Charlotte.   "Sheldon was the one guy, he and Manu that kept us in attack mode.  I am very pleased to come away with a very hard fought victory."

And with that the Nationally ranked Hurricanes, are now 6-0.

UM returns home to face South Alabama on Friday at 7PM (ESPN3)