While many Canes fans were sleeping on the east coast, our Hoops team were taking on a motivated Hawaii team almost 5,000 miles away in front of a raucous home crowd to open the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Coach Larranaga wanted a true road game atmosphere, and he got what he was looking for as the Rainbow Warriors came out firing on all cylinders, keeping pace with Miami for an entire half as the game was tied 33-33 at the midway point. The Canes took care of business in the second half, pulling away to capture their 10th straight victory to open the season, 75-57.
Miami started the game strong, getting to the basket at will, with Anthony Lawrence II leading all Canes with 9 points in the first half. But the easy baskets didn't continue, as Miami started having some shooting woes. Hawaii outshot the Canes 46% to 41% in the first half, despite Miami being one of the best defensive teams in the country. The disparity was even worse from behind the arc, as Miami only hit 1 out of their first 7 attempts to start the game while Hawaii hit 5 threes in the first half.
Miami finally started to pull away in the second half, going on an 11-1 run to create some separation with 14 minutes left. Dejan Vasiljevic started connecting from deep, and multiple stops led to quick transition buckets. The Canes ratcheted up the defense in the second half, forcing Hawaii to commit 16 turnovers as their offense sizzled out. Also helping the cause was a season-best performance from the charity stripe for the Canes, as they made 10 of their 13 free throw attempts.
The Canes strong second half rectified their less than stellar first half, and the overall feel of the game regressed towards the mean, with Miami finishing shooting 50% from the floor versus Hawaii's 40%. Dewan Huell and Ja'Quan Newton led the way as both finished with a team-high 16 points. Bruce Brown Jr continued to struggle shooting the ball in his second game back from his wrist injury, but had a solid night overall with 4 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Miami's bench performed well as Lonnie Walker IV (8 pts), Chris Lykes (7 pts 5 rebounds), and Ebuka Izundu (7 pts) all provided valuable minutes.
Sheriff Drammeh led all scorers with 17 points, and sophomore guard Leland Green was the Rainbow Warriors' only other player in double figures with 10 points. Hawaii's leading scorer coming in to the game was senior forward Michael Thomas, but he had a night anyone would like to forget, being held to one point while enduring multiple facials from various Canes:
We need a poster of this poster IMMEDIATELY. pic.twitter.com/GiIYzKu5G4— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) December 23, 2017
In the semifinals the Canes will take on New Mexico St, who pulled out a 1-point victory in their opening round matchup with Davidson, 69-68. You can catch Miami as they try to capture their 11th straight win Saturday(today) at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.