Miami Opens Big Week with Statement Win Over Ole Miss
By: Rob Dunning
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Before the season started, Frank Haith and his basketball team had this week circled on their calendar knowing they had an opportunity to pick up two resume building wins in a span of four days against Ole Miss and West Virginia.
One down. One to go.
The Hurricanes had their way with the visiting Rebels Tuesday night, converting 10 of their final 11 free throws to hold off a second-half rally for the 86-73 win at the BankUnited Center.
Miami (5-2) controlled the action from the start, jumping out to first half lead of 18-4 at the 13-minute mark and 42-17 at the four-minute mark before taking a 57-27 advantage into the half over Ole Miss (3-2).
However, the Rebels used a 29-8 run over 10 minutes in the second half to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to nine points, with UM up 79-70 with 4:12 remaining in the game. But strong Miami free throw shooting down the stretch secured the 17th straight non-conference home win for the Hurricanes.
“Great win for us,” Coach Haith said. “Obviously the first half we played about as well as you could play, offensively and defensively.”
Durand Scott scored a season-high 27 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists and Reggie Johnson turned in his fifth double-double in Miami’s last six games with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Miami to its first statement win of the 2010-11 season. Scott finished the night 12-of-13 from the line, hitting some key shots down the stretch as Ole Miss made a late rally.
“Reggie was a man in the paint,” Haith said. “Obviously Durand had one of those games tonight and he was able to close it out making his free throws.”
Perhaps an early indication of how the night would go for Miami was when Julian Gamble laid out Rebel guard Trevor Gaskins on a pick-and-roll before converting it into an easy lay-up a few minutes after tip. The play would appear to be rather meaningless in the overall scope of the game, but the energy created on `Canes bench and lost on the Ole Miss side was too significant to overlook.
Adrian Thomas‘ performance in the first half was equally important. Thomas his on 4-of-5 three-point attempts in the opening period, eventually scoring a career-high 17 points to lead the Hurricanes’ perimeter game.
“I think all of our guys were ready to play today,” Haith said. “I think we had good focus to start this ball game.”
The `Canes shot 50 percent from the field, held a 21-to-4 edge in second chance opportunities and out-rebounded the Rebels, 41-to-30.
“[Ole Miss] is good,” Haith said. “This team can win the West in the SEC. This is a great win for us.”
Chris Warren led Ole Miss with 23 points.
With the win tonight, Miami…
Big Time Big Men
Sophomore center Reggie Johnson, had his eighth straight double-figure scoring performance, the second longest active streak in the ACC. His 17 points set a new season high, while his game-high 10 rebounds also gave him his fifth straight double-double. Johnson entered the game third in the ACC in rebounding.
Thomas for Three