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Miami Hurricanes Basketball Stymies Florida Gators 66-55

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Devon Reed takes a jumper in Miami's win over UF.
Devon Reed takes a jumper in Miami's win over UF.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

All day long the University of Miami campus was buzzing over Finals Week.

Well the UM Hoops team faced a "final" in essence this evening Vs Florida, in what was arguably their final big name opponent on the out of conference schedule.

This contest definitely has a big game feel.

New football coach Mark Richt was even  in attendance and drew a huge ovation from a near full house.

So was 2016 recruit Dewan Huell.

And the Hurricanes, especially Sheldon McClellan who went for 24, responded and passed with flying colors Vs their intrastate rivals Florida in a solid victory from the Bank United Center,

The 'Canes did not have all of their weapons for the test  as they were missing talented freshman wing Anthony "Amp' Lawrence Jr, who was out with the flu.

Miami got off to a quick start nonetheless, paced by Angel Rodriguez' 5 early points and led by 4 at the first TV timeout.

Tonye Jekiri's put back a moment after the break made it 12-6.

Jekiri was a beast  on the glass early in, but would miss a good part of the opening half shaken up after a huge collision with UF's John Egbunu.

He would return in the second half.

With the 'Canes short-handed and Florida struggling to shoot, the game lacked a rhythm for stretches of the opening 20.

But Dorian Finney-Smith and McClellan would trade triples as the 'Canes held a 4 point lead half way through the first stanza.

That's when both teams really went ice cold neither team scored over a 4 minute stretch.

Rodriguez finally got inside for a lay up to break the drought and make it 20-14 Hurricanes right at the 6 minute mark.

Shortly after Kamari Murphy and Devin Robinson would exchange dunks as the execution for both squads would pick back up.

UF cut the lead to 2 after a bucket by Egbunu.

But McClellan started balling, and a deep three and two FTs by the Hurricane senior  helped build the lead back to 9, 33-24, at the half.

The Gators were a pedestrian 25% (9-25) from the floor in the first 20 minutes.  The Hurricanes were slightly better at 38%  (13-34).

In the opening moments of the second half, UM quickly extended the lead to double digits as Rodriguez nailed a triple off a second chance opportunity created by Kamari Murphy.

Florida fought back as the game got very physical.

The Hurricanes lead would stay between 7-12 points seemingly the entire final 20 minutes.

McClellan scored on the break off a perfect bounce pass from Ja'Quan Newton 5 minutes to keep the Hurricanes in command.

UM's second half ball movement was spectacular at times.

UF was scrappy and athletic enough though that the Hurricanes never could quite completely run away from them.

But McClellan was really on though, and seemed to score each time that the Gators challenged.

That and some stingy D, including a spectacular block by Davon Reed with 7 minutes to go, were the difference.

Jekiri would add a rejection of his own at the 5 minute mark, and McClellan would draw a huge charge 3 minutes later to keep UM up 60-47.

The rest as they say, was academic.

While this game wasn't a thing of beauty, and Florida's offense didn't exactly resemble Butler, this was a very solid win and the best team defensive performance of the season.

More challenges await for the 'Canes, but for now they perched solidly in the Top 25 and certainly have bragging rights over their rivals from Gainesville.

Next Up: The Hurricanes host College of Charleston on Saturday 12/19 at 2 PM EST.