No. 13 Miami pulls away late to beat Syracuse 64-51
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) The seeds for this win were planted more than two years ago, when Ja'Quan Newton turned down a scholarship offer from Syracuse and committed to play for Miami.
It stung the Orange then, and hurts even more now.
Sheldon McClellan scored 22 points, Newton made two big 3-pointers in the second half to kick start a Miami offense that was dreadful for most of the game, and the 13th-ranked Hurricanes pulled away late to beat Syracuse 64-51 on Saturday.
Newton finished with 14 points for Miami (12-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its seventh straight despite missing its first 16 tries from 3-point range. Newton was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc, while his teammates were a combined 1 for 23.
''The whole game, they were playing off me,'' said Newton, who pulled a groin muscle in the final minutes. ''I noticed it in the first half. ... They were a big two 3's, the biggest two 3's of the game, probably.''
Not probably. There's no doubt.
''The difference in the game,'' Syracuse interim coach Mike Hopkins said of Newton's 3-pointers. ''Got to give him a lot of credit.''
Both of Newton's 3's gave Miami the lead, the second one putting the Hurricanes on top for good and starting a 12-0 run that would give them a 56-44 edge with 2:46 left.
Malachi Richardson scored 20 points for Syracuse (10-5, 0-2), which has dropped its first two league games for the first time since it started the 1998-99 Big East season 0-2.
Michael Gbinije added 10 points for the Orange, who were outscored 47-26 in the second half.
''Second tough road game that our kids played in and they gave a great effort,'' Hopkins said. ''They really executed defensively.''
The Orange led 25-17 after the first 20 minutes, absolutely frustrating a Miami team that came in averaging 85 points on 51 percent shooting. The Hurricanes were shooting only 19 percent at the break - and missed all 11 of their 3-point attempts. And if not for McClellan managing 11 points by halftime, it could have been much worse for Miami.
''Players respond to challenges one of two ways,'' Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. ''Either they start thinking negatively ... or they respond positively and start to dig down deeper defensively.''
Syracuse: Hopkins is 4-4 as the replacement for Orange coach Jim Boeheim, who is one game from satisfying the nine-game suspension handed down as part of Syracuse's NCAA sanctions. ... The Orange have lost six straight road games going back to last season - that doesn't count their three neutral-site wins at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November - and have dropped their last five ACC games.
Miami: The Hurricanes improved to 4-8 in their ACC openers. ... It was the second straight slow start for Miami, which had 27 first-half points against Princeton. Until Saturday, that was Miami's season-low for a half. ... Miami improved to 7-1 at home. ... The Hurricanes got to the line 34 times, compared with 14 for the Orange.
Syracuse shot 9 for 28 in the first half, and shot exactly that again in the second half. Miami, after a 5 for 27 start to the game, finished by making 13 of its last 25 attempts. ''That 2-3 zone is really annoying,'' McClellan said.
The seats at Bank United Center were mostly filled with orange-clad fans - which, ordinarily, would be a good thing for Miami and its orange-and-green color scheme. But included in that crowd was a contingent of about 2,500 Syracuse backers, many of whom made the trip from Central New York as an escape now that winter has finally seemed to strike. Temperatures at game time: 80 in Coral Gables, 32 in Syracuse.
Syracuse: Hosts Clemson on Tuesday.
Miami: Hosts Florida State on Jan. 9.