Miami cruises past Charleston in 67-40 win
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Overwhelming defense helped Miami end a losing funk in its non-conference finale.
Angel Rodriguez scored 15 points as Miami routed College of Charleston 67-40 Tuesday night. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Miami, which also had lost three of its last four.
The Hurricanes (10-3) never trailed and increased a 20-point halftime lead with a 13-0 run early in the second half. Rodriguez began the surge with six consecutive points and Sheldon McClellan's 3-pointer with 13:57 left ended the spurt, giving the Hurricanes their first 30-point lead at 45-14.
McClellan finished with 11 points and Tony Jekiri had eight points and eight rebounds for Miami, which was ranked as high as 15th nationally four weeks ago. But consecutive losses to Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 19 and Providence three days later dropped the Hurricanes from the rankings.
''We wanted to go into the ACC feeling good about ourselves,'' Jekiri said. ''As a team and as a group we just wanted to go in feeling good. This is how we play and we want to keep it like that.''
The Hurricanes limited the Cougars (5-8) to 29.6 shooting from the field and 14.3 in the first half.
''I thought our concentration, starting with practice on December the 26th, was far better than it had been for several weeks, almost the whole month of December,'' Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. ''There had been a letup by everybody.
''We added a few reminders of the importance of playing defense. And our players took that to heart.''
Miami overcame a sluggish start and outscored Charleston 13-2 during a 3:35 stretch midway through the first half. Manu Lecomte keyed the surge with five points including a 3-pointer with 8:19 remaining that capped the run and increased the Hurricanes' lead to 18-4.
McClellan's layup with two seconds left gave Miami a 32-12 lead at halftime.
Both teams shot a combined 1-for-19 to start the game as Miami led 3-0 through the first 7:47. The Hurricanes missed nine consecutive shots until Jekiri's hook shot gave the Hurricanes a 5-0 lead with 12:13 remaining in the first half.
''We didn't get off to a great start offensively but we didn't fall behind because we were stopping them,'' Larranaga said. ''And eventually, we started to make our shots and pull away.''
The Cougars were held scoreless and missed their first 10 shots until Glen Pierre's jumper 9:48 into the game.
David Wishon scored 10 points for Charleston, which lost its fourth straight.
''We didn't have a good night shooting the ball; defensively, I thought we gave up too many easy shots,'' Cougars coach Earl Grant said.
The Cougars played their first game after the death of former reserve guard Chad Cooke on December 24. Cooke, who earned a berth on the Charleston roster as a walk-on the previous two seasons, was 20.
Grant emphasized the importance of improved coaching to help the Cougars end their losing streak. ''We just have to do better job, starting with me and my staff. Poor performance, starting with me, and we have to go back and find ways to get better.''
NON CONFERENCE MIAMI BEST FOR LARRANAGA
The 10-3 non-conference record is the best in Larranaga's four seasons at Miami. The previous best was a 9-3 start in 2012-13, when the Hurricanes won the ACC regular season and tournament championships.
Charleston: Cougars G Canyon Barry is the son of former Miami All-American and NBA Hall of Fame forward Rick Barry. The elder Barry attended the game and received a warm ovation from the crowd at Bank United Center.
Miami: The 12 points allowed in the first half were the lowest by the Hurricanes since they joined the ACC in 2004. The previous first half low were 12 against Maryland on Jan. 13, 2013.
Charleston visits William and Mary on Saturday.
Miami hosts No. 3 Virginia on Saturday.