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Canes Hoops: Miami Holds Off Missouri State Run in Charleston Classic Behind Vasiljevic’s Career Day

Missouri State cut an 18-point, second half lead by Miami to just one possession.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Miami vs Loyola Chicago Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes held off a second-half surge by the Missouri State Bears to win the opening game of the Charleston Classic Thursday, 74-70.

DJ Vasiljevic, Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty scored 55 of Miami’s 74 points in UM’s win at the TD Arena, buoyed by Vasiljevic’s career-high 25 points.

UM shot 9-22 from beyond the arc and 15-17 from the free throw line to secure their fourth straight win. Vasiljevic alone connected on four the Hurricanes’ three-point shots, shot a team-best 9-13 from the field, and was perfect from the charity stripe.

Coming into Thursday’s contest, Miami had missed more than a third of their free throws, and had made just over a third of their three-point shot attempts.

Rodney Miller’s eight rebounds was a team-high, while the Bears’ Gaige Prim led Miami’s opponent with 18 points.

Missouri State’s Tulio Da Silva also logged a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

The Hurricanes turned the ball over just nine times and scored 23 points off the Bears’ 16 turnovers. However, UM was out-rebounded 45-25 and were outscored 24-12 in second chance points.

For much of the first half, the Bears were the more aggressive team. Missouri State scored 16 points in the paint before halftime, compared to just 10 for the Canes, which largely came in the half’s closing minutes. The Missouri Valley Conference team also led the first half offense rebounding battle 9-4 at the end of the first half, but UM entered the break with a 38-30 lead in large part due to their ability to shoot the basketball, making five of their 10 first half three-point field goal attempts.

Vasiljevic added three of the team’s first half three-point shots, going into the intermission with 13 points and playing a role in drawing the Bears out of the 2-3 zone defense that game the Canes some issues in the opening half. Miami was also 9-9 from the free throw line in the opening half, as a 16-4 late half run gave UM momentum into halftime.

Miami surged out to an 18-point lead at the midpoint of the second half, but a 12-0 run by the Bears—kickstarted by success as they returned to their zone look—cut the margin to as little as six points to put the game back into question with less than seven minutes remaining. Missouri State further cut UM’s lead to a single possession twice in the final minute, but both times the Hurricanes made their ensuring free throws to finish the game.

The Canes are next in action Friday in Charleston at Noon against the winner of the Florida/St. Joseph’s game, which takes places Thursday at 2 p.m. Friday’s game will be available on ESPN2 or ESPNU.