Posted: 2:32 p.m. Saturday, March 9, 2013
By Jerry Steinberg
Well it was dicey for a half, but Hurricanes Hoops were not to be denied. Riding the wave of emotion from Senior Day, Miami played an outstanding second half to overcome a game Clemson squad, 62-49 in front of a sold out Bank United Center.
Jordan Roper, who gave Miami fits last month in Death Valley, was even more incredible today, scoring the Tigers first 12 points. But a superbly executed alley-oop from Trey McKinney Jones to Kenny Kadji was an explosive answer for UM. The 'Canes started all 5 seniors, but Shane Larkin was quickly dispatched from the bench to slow down Roper, and Rion Brown also came off the bench to knock down a corner three for a 14-12 lead.
McKinney Jones and Milton Jennings traded bombs as the play down low was very physical. TMJ was hot early with 8 points, but had to go to the bench with 2 fouls after Jennings ran him over and he was called for a block. When KJ McDaniels scored on a put back Clemson took a 25-23 lead and Coach Larranaga needed a TO. Julian Gamble answered with a tip in, and the teams headed to the locker room knotted up at 25.
At the half Miami was controlling the boards to the tune of an 18-11 advantage, but was just 9-24 from the floor and 3-4 from the line, despite taking the ball to the basket a good dozen times.
UM opened the second half with back-to-back turnovers but the Tigers did not capitalize. Durand Scott finally hit a pull up jumper to give Miami the lead. Both teams really struggled even to find shots in the opening minutes of the final 20. McDaniels scored on a layup 5 minutes in for Clemson, but Kadji answered right back with a 20 footer to keep the lead 4. After a free throw by Devin Booker, Kadji nailed a trifecta from the corner to extend to a 34-28 lead, and Bank United Center finally got LOUD. Scott scored again to extend the lead to 8 a minute later. Shane Larkin got his first basket of the to extend to a 41-32 lead and this seemed to get him going. Another Larkin three ball following a bucket by Booker, kept the lead at 10.
With 6 minutes to go, the BUC again roared as the crowd could sense the moment. Kadji nailed a three moments later as Miami broke the press. The 'Canes were clearly in control.
In the final minutes, the fans seemed to take it all in. When Larkin sliced and diced through it to find Kadji for yet another corner three and a 55-41 lead, it was obvious there no denying these Hurricanes. McKinney Jones got free for a one-handed stuff one possession later to cap it.
Miami's first ever ACC regular season crown was complete. 'Canes fans certainly hope bigger and better things are on the horizon!!
Player of the Game: The Seniors, all 5!!! Kadji had the biggest game, but each has come up huge at different teams to key the run to the ACC regular season title.
The Good:The 'Canes defense was stellar all game long. With 30 seconds left all 5 seniors left the game to a standing ovation. WELL DESERVED!!!
The Bad: Miami had 8 turnovers at the half.
The Ugly: The officiating. Let's say the calls are 50/50 (just for argument's sake). They still need to be more consistent. One minute a player gets called for a hand check, the next a guy is raked and play on. C'mon ACC officials you can do better.
Next Game: Miami heads to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament. We know that the 'Canes 1st game will be Friday 3/15 at Noon. Opponent TBA.
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