If Miami hopes to play in any postseason tournament (NIT included), they have their work cut out for them.
Tonight they took a step in the right direction, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 71-64 in a game they controlled through out, until a nerve wracking end.
Coach L and staff continued their propensity for changing things up by starting the game in man to man defense. UM had been predominantly a zone team for the last dozen or so games.
Much like the well documented switch to a match-up zone, Miami's slow tempo offense has also been credited with keeping them in close games all season long.
Well tonight Larranaga really took the reigns off the O as UM would look for and take many early shots.
And the results weren't too bad as UM played some pretty heady D early on and Rion Brown canned two bombs for an early 8-7 lead.
Pat Connaughton would knock down a pair of triples of his own to get the Irish going.
But when Miami brought Tonye Jekiri, Manu Lecomte, and Davon Reed off the bench 5 minutes in, all three would pay dividends with early buckets.
In fact the entire offense would sizzle as the 'Canes would build a 20-10 lead, hitting 7 of their first 8 shots overall, including 4-4 from beyond the arc.
Reed would hit two more big jumpers and Erik Swoope would provide a boost on both ends of the floor and the lead would swell to 15 before Erik Atkins would hit a three at the halftime buzzer to cut it to 38-26 at the break.
Suddenly thriving with out the restrictions of a measured, deliberate pace the Hurricanes looked like a far different team then the one that managed just 15 points in the first half last weekend Vs Va Tech.
Reed led UM with 10 in the first stanza, while Connaughton poured in 11 for ND.
The second half started off with some fireworks of its' own as Connaughton would score 5 quick points, but Brown would answer with an athletic tip in, and an even more athletic finish one play later on an alley hoop flush.
Additionally, Garrius Adams (who came in shooting just 34% from the floor), nailed his first 5 shots of the game to help keep the Hurricanes hot.
The game slowed down midway through the half, but another big shot by Adams kept Miami comfortably ahead.
The all out effort of the Hurricanes was on full display in one sequence where three 'Canes out fought a Notre Dame player for the ball in an all out scrum.
Connaughton would hit his 5th three ball of the game to cut the lead to 56-48 with 6 minutes to go.The 6'5 swing man kept the Irish in the game all night long.
Nonetheless it looked like UM had this one locked up until a frantic final minute.
Lecomte would hit a big runner with under a minute to go to build the lead to 7 but back-to-back threes by Connaughton and Steve Vasturia after a Miami turnover would inexplicably slice the lead to just one.
Brown would hit two free throws to extend to lead, before a Demetrius Jackson lay up would again cut it back to 1.
RB would get fouled again and confidently knock down two more, and this time Jackson would miss the lay in attempt, leading to two Raphael Akpejori FTs and that would finally seal it.
Finally, finally the Hurricanes had held on in a close home game.
Brown would finish with 21 points in the big win.
Next Up: Miami hosts the BC Eagles (6-19, 2-10) Saturday 2/22 at Noon EST.
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|Garrick Sherman, C||3-9||0-0||1-2||2||1||3||1||0||0||1||3||7|
|Zach Auguste, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Eric Atkins, G||2-8||1-5||0-0||0||0||0||3||1||0||0||3||5|
|Pat Connaughton, G||8-12||6-7||0-0||1||1||2||4||3||2||1||1||22|
|Steve Vasturia, G||1-6||1-4||2-4||0||0||0||3||2||0||1||2||5|
|Tom Knight, F||0-2||0-0||0-0||2||4||6||0||0||1||1||1||0|
|Austin Burgett, F||0-2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|V.J. Beachem, F||3-8||2-6||0-0||0||1||1||1||0||0||1||2||8|
|Demetrius Jackson, G||7-13||3-5||0-0||1||2||3||5||1||0||1||4||17|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Erik Swoope, F||2-4||0-0||3-4||1||2||3||0||0||1||1||3||7|
|Donnavan Kirk, F||2-3||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||4|
|Raphael Akpejiori, F||0-2||0-0||3-4||0||4||4||0||0||1||0||1||3|
|Rion Brown, G||6-13||3-7||6-6||3||8||11||5||0||0||3||1||21|
|Garrius Adams, G||6-8||2-3||0-0||2||4||6||5||0||0||1||0||14|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||1-3||0-0||0-0||2||4||6||2||2||1||1||2||2|
|Davon Reed, G||3-10||2-4||4-4||0||3||3||0||1||0||2||1||12|
|Manu Lecomte, G||3-5||2-3||0-0||1||0||1||2||0||0||3||1||8|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None