Making his first appearance in a Miami uniform, Oklahoma-transfer guard Kameron McGusty poured in a game-high 20 points and two steals as the Hurricanes pulled away from Flagler College, 86-65 in Wednesday night’s exhibition contest at the Watsco Center.
McGusty wasn’t the only new face making an impact for the Orange and Green as highly-touted freshmen guards Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly chipped in 12 and 10, respectively.
However, it wasn’t all smooth-sailing for the Canes, who are coming off a 14-18 (5-13 ACC) campaign - head coach Jim Larranaga’s first losing season in Coral Gables. Leading 47-26 at the break, Miami was outscored 23-10 to begin the second half, allowing the Saints to pull within eight at the 12:10 mark.
Flagler, who finished 8-20 overall and 5-17 in the Peach Belt Conference last year, continued to hang around, trailing 64-54 at the 6:28 mark until Miami ripped-off 12-unanswered points, ignited by a McGusty deuce with 6:08 remaining.
A steal-and-score by junior guard Willie Herenton gave the Canes their largest lead of the night at 85-58 with 1:48 on the clock.
After trailing 3-0, Miami led the remainder of the way, jumping out to a 34-12 lead behind 16 combined points from McGusty and Wong.
Following a 10-2 run from Flagler, a D.J. Vasiljevic trey sparked an 11-4 finish for the Hurricanes over the final 5:31 of the first half, capped-off by a put-back at the buzzer from Rodney Miller for a 47-26 advantage.
Miller finished 8-of-12 from the floor while scoring 10 of his 16 points in the first half. The redshirt-junior would also grab five boards and block three shots. Meanwhile, Vasiljevic added a dozen points on 3-of-8 from downtown.
Nine Miami players would record 12-plus minutes of playing time, including last year’s leading scorer Chris Lykes, who was limited to just 12 minutes of action while scoring four points on 1-of-2 shooting.
Deng Gak had six points and four boards in 17 minutes; Sam Waardenburg was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting (0-for-4 from distance) but pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
Freshman Anthony Walker saw 18 minutes of work, recording six points on 3-of-6 from the field.
Flagler was led by 14 points from Gedi Juozapaitis and 12 from Damerit Brown.
Miami opens the regular season on Nov. 5 when they host fifth-ranked Louisville at the Watsco Center. The conference showdown will be televised on the ACC Network. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.