The highly anticipated Hurricanes basketball season tipped off at The Watsco Center Friday night against Gardner-Webb where Coach L’s squad overcame a sluggish first half thanks to Bruce Brown’s second career triple-double to win (77-45).
Miami started the same lineup as their exhibition game: Ja’Quan Newton, Dejan Vasiljevic, Bruce Brown, Anthony Lawrence, and Dewan Huell.
The Canes’ offense was stagnant for most of the first half facing multiple defenses from Gardner-Webb who opened in a 1-3-1 zone and played that for most of the first half. Gardner-Webb led 7-0 as the zone held the Canes scoreless until 15:53 in the first half. Miami would go on a 10-0 run including a Lonnie Walker alley-oop finish, who checked in with Chris Lykes and Ebuka Izundu at the 15:01 mark.
Previous Miami teams have shown similar struggles against zone defenses and that was a similar trend in the first half as the Canes shot 33% (9-27) from the field and 7.7% (1-13) from three. Miami held a 27-23 lead at halftime.
Things quickly shifted in the second-half as Miami’s defense fueled transition baskets leading to a 24-2 run in the first eight minutes. The size of Miami played a huge factor as Huell (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Izundu (12 points, 8 rebounds) provided productive nights in the post.
Miami played up to its caliber in the second-half outscoring Gardner-Webb (50-22). Along with the bigs, the wings provided a balanced attack of Brown (10-11-10), Newton (13 points), and Walker (10 points). The Canes’ shot an efficient 63% (21-33) in the second half from the field, attacking the paint and running in transition.
Besides the slow start to the game, Miami will need to clean up their free throws as they shot 48% (10-21) from the charity stripe.
Coach L should be pleased with the second-half effort and use it as a building block as the Canes take on Navy on Sunday.