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Thomas Shoots Miami into NIT Quarterfinals

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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.

  1st 2nd F
#3 Missouri State 32 40 72
#2 Miami 26 55 81
Team Stat Comparison
  UM MSU
Points 81 72
FG Made-Attempted 26-52 25-66
FG Percentage 50.0 37.9
3P Made-Attempted 8-22 13-29
3P Percentage 36.4 44.8
FT Made-Attempted 21-24 9-15
FT Percentage 87.5 60.0
Rebounds 35 34
Assists 14 14
Turnovers 8 7
Miami Stat Leaders MSU
D. Scott 20 Points 26 A. Leonard
R. Johnson 9 Rebounds 8 J. Mallett
D. Scott 4 Assists 4 Ricks/Mallett
D. Jones 2 Steals 2 K. Weems
D. Jones 3 Blocks 1 K. Weems

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…

  • 21-14 overall
  • 13-4 at the BankUnited Center this season
  • 1-0 all-time versus Missouri State
  • 5-3 in NIT games under Haith and 6-9 in NIT games in program history
  • 3-0 in NIT home games
  • 7-0 in games when the team scores at least 80 points
  • 11-0 when the team shoots at least 50% from the field

Tonight’s Starters
Starting for Miami tonight were Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant, Rion Brown, Adrian Thomas and Reggie Johnson. This was the third game (2-1) that Coach Haith has used this lineup, all during the postseason. Brown has now started all four postseason games for Miami after not making a single start during the regular season.

Tonight’s Opponent
Third-seeded Missouri State, regular-season champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, made their first trip ever to Coral Gables to face the Hurricanes. The Bears advanced to the second round after defeating sixth-seeded Murray State, 89-76, last Tuesday in Springfield, Mo. behind a career-high 23 points from Jermaine Mallet.

Update the Record Books
With the tip-off just after 7 p.m. tonight, the 2010-11 Hurricanes set a school record playing in their 35th game of the season. Malcolm Grant also etched his name atop the books by making his 35th start of the season, the most in one campaign in program history. And not to be outdone, sixth-year player Adrian Thomas appeared in his school-record 131st game as a Hurricane.

A New Mark
The Hurricanes picked up their 21st win of the season on Monday night, eighth-most in a season in program history. The school record belongs to the 2001-02 squad that won 24 games. Frank Haith has led Miami to at least 20 wins in three of the last four seasons, with a high of 23 in 2007-08.

Start the Half Strong
Miami started both halves furiously with a 7-0 run to begin the game and a 26-9 spurt following halftime. The Hurricanes held the Bears scoreless until a pair of Isaiah Rhine free throws for the Bears 3:48 into the game. The `Canes went on to hit their first eight shots to fuel their second half rally, including four triples. Adrian Thomas sparked the run with 14 points in the first 4:15 out of intermission, after going scoreless in the first half.

Second Half Surge
Miami scored 55 points in the second period, the second-most in a half for the Hurricanes this season. Miami’s high this season is 57 in the first half in a home win over Ole Miss on Nov. 30.

No Charity, then Plenty
The Hurricanes went the entire first half without attempting a foul shot, but made 24 trips to the line in the second making 21.

The Long Ball
Malcolm Granthit two three-pointers to extend his three-point streak to an ACC-long 22-straight games, tying for the fifth-longest streak in Miami history. With 153 career threes in just his second season as Hurricane, Grant is in 10th place all-time in program history in triples made, while his 92 three-pointers this season are fourth-best in Miami history. His 215 attempts in a season are the fourth most tries from deep in a season for a Hurricane.

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.

Great Scott
Durand Scott has played excellent basketball in the NIT, leading the Hurricanes with 19.5 points per game over the pair, shooting 61.1 from the field in the tournament. Finishing with a team-high 20 points versus Missouri State, Scott notched his sixth 20-point game of the season on Monday and the team-high ninth of his career.

Dishing it off
Malcolm Grant has accumulated 231 assists over his two-year career to move into 14th place in Hurricanes history.

Monster on the Boards
Reggie Johnson, who is third in the ACC in rebounding, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds on Monday. Johnson now has 340 rebounds on the season, the sixth-highest single-season total in UM – and the most since Rick Barry pulled down a school-record 475 boards in 1964-65.

Ball Control
The Hurricanes have only turned the ball over 15 times in the NIT.

Faces in the Crowd
Among those in attendance tonight were Ted Hendricks – former UM All-American football player and Pro Football Hall of Famer, James Dews – the Hurricanes’ leading scorer last season and President Donna Shalala.

Up Next
The second-seeded Hurricanes will travel to top-seeded Alabama for Final Eight game on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on ESPN2 with a trip to Madison Square Garden and the NIT’s Final Four on the line.