7 Up!

With two games left on the out-of-conference schedule, Miami needed to keep doing the things it had been doing during its six-game winning streak. That meant coming out and sending a message against Appalachian State.

That's exactly what happened as a 16-0 run in the final seven minutes of the first half keyed a first half explosion that saw Miami turn a 24-22 lead into a 42-24 lead going into the half.

The ‘Canes rode that momentum into the second half scoring the first six points of the half building as much as a 29-point lead en route to an 80-63 win before 2,881 at the Convocation Center.

The win gave the ‘Canes an 8-2 record heading into the New Year, something that has Frank Haith ecstatic.

"It's real nice to go into the New Year with a seven-game wining streak," Haith said. "We have kids who have a great attitude. These guys want to be better players and they want to put in the work to do that."

Any questions of Miami possibly overlooking the very athletic Mountaineers was quickly extinguished when the ‘Canes took over the game with some tough defense that turned into quick easy buckets.

Up 24-22, Miami closed the half with an 18-2 run that saw Miami turn its usual three-point shot assault into a dunk-a-thon that started when Gary Hamilton threw down an alley-oop from Anthony Harris to give Miami a 27-22 lead.

Then Harris found Guillermo Diaz down court for another dunk on the break. Harris then missed a lay up, but it wound up in good hands when William Frisby threw down the rebound for the third dunk.

Robert Hite finished the dunking spree with an emphatic windmill to give Miami a 35-22 lead with 5:31 to play in the half.

A free throw by Harris, a short jumper by Hite and a lay up by Diaz had Miami up 40-22 and cruising.

"Our energy level picked up to another level during that run," Haith said. "Our post activity was excellent. Gary Hamilton had a great game off the bench for us again and as we continue to get better we will need good post play."

Hamilton was especially key during the run as his energy sparked the ‘Canes late in the first half. He had seven points and seven rebounds in the first half and finished the game with 12 points, 12 rebounds, one block and one steal.

A big key in Hamilton's improved play has been his patience, but his aggressiveness as well.

"Coach Haith needed more energy coming off the bench," Hamilton said. "He got me going. He has gotten me to take my time and use the pump fake more. I never used the pump fake this much in my career. Coming off the bench I have the chance to see everything before I get on the floor."

The ‘Canes didn't let up in the second half shooting out of the block on a 6-0 run and pushed the lead to as many as 29 when Hite hit two free throws for a 75-46 lead with 6:25 to play.

Hite finished with 18 points and Diaz added 15. Harris scored nine points, but also had seven assists and five rebounds.

With one game left before Miami heads to Atlanta to take on the ninth-ranked team in the nation in Georgia Tech next Friday night, the ‘Canes are sure to not overlook anyone either.

"We are very excited about starting ACC play, but we can't look past Norfolk State because you can get beat on any night," Hite said.

Miami takes on Norfolk State on Sunday at 2:30pm as the second game of a doubleheader that has the Lady ‘Canes taking on Coppin State at noon.

Note: This game saw former Northwest Christian Academy head coach Anthony Pujol make his homecoming as a first-year assistant at Appalachian State. Pujol led Northwest Christian from 1995 to 2004, winning three state titles and accumulating a 250-46 record. He had more than 30 family members in attendance who still reside in South Florida.

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