Thomas Shoots Miami into NIT Quarterfinals
|Box Score | Miami Postgame Press Conference | Missouri State Postgame Press Conference
By Rob Dunning
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In a game that could have potentially been his last on his home court, Adrian Thomas wasn’t going down without a fight. Thomas hit four three-pointers and a long two in a span of less than four minutes early in the second half to help move the `Canes into the NIT’s Final Eight with an 81-72 win over Missouri State Monday night at the BankUnited Center.
Miami (21-14) will travel to Alabama (23-11) for a Wednesday game at 9 p.m. on ESPN2, who advances after knocking off New Mexico, 74-67, on Monday evening.
Down by six at the break, UM opened the second half on a 23-9 run and would never look back. The momentum – and lead – the Hurricanes grabbed during the run carried through until late in the game, when a comeback attempt by MSU (26-9) proved to be too little, too late.
The game had completely changed by the 15-minute mark of the second half, much in part due to Thomas’ shooting display, but also thanks to some big buckets inside by Reggie Johnson, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
Just when it looked like the `Canes would be in for another battle to the end, the fast start to the half separated the two teams for good.
All 16 of Thomas’ points on the night came on 5-of-11 shooting in the second half. Durand Scott, however, was Miami’s leading scorer as the sophomore finished with 20 points (7-of-12 FG; 6-of-8 FT) to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
For the second straight game in the NIT, Miami shot at least 50 percent from the field, hitting on 26-of-52 against the Bears five days after shooting 60 percent in its opening round win over FAU.
While the game was really never in much doubt, MSU’s Adam Leonard sure wouldn’t let the `Canes pull away. Much like Thomas had done to open the second half, Leonard caught fire from three-point land late in the contest, going 6-for-6 from behind the arc in the second half, including 4-for-4 after the under eight media timeout.
MSU had pulled to within five at 61-56 with 7:23 to go but Miami regained its comfortable lead and cruised to nine-point win.
Leonard finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-11 from the field and 7-of-8 from long range – the most three-pointers for a Miami opponent to hit this season.
To open the game, UM jumped out to an early 9-2 lead but the Bears (26-9) responded with a 30-17 run to close out the half. While the `Canes had shot better than MSU in the half, the Bears held the lead because of eight offensive rebounds,14-0 advantage in second chance points and a 7-of-11 performance from the line. Miami would not shoot any free throws in the opening half.
However, the Hurricanes finished 21-of-24 from the charity stripe in the second half, helping seal the program’s 21st victory of the season in its school-record 35th game of the year.
With the win tonight, Miami is now…
Update the Record Books
A New Mark
Start the Half Strong
Second Half Surge
No Charity, then Plenty
The Long Ball
Grant — who leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage, three-pointers per game and free throw percentage — has hit a three in 32-of-35 games this season.
Adrian Thomas hit four three-pointers in the second half to extend his three-point streak to 19-straight games for the second-longest active streak in the ACC behind Grant and the eighth-longest streak in UM history. His 93 three-pointers this season are third most in a single season by a Hurricane, while his 204 career threes rank fifth. Thomas has hit three-plus threes 18 times this season and 35 times over his six-year career.
Dishing it off
Monster on the Boards
Faces in the Crowd