Normally, with the game on the line, a team will inbound a pass to its best free-throw shooter, not its worst. But Miami was in the situation the coaches did not want Wednesday night as Gary Hamilton came to the line, able to secure a Hurricane victory against Clemson.
"We had a play drawn up, because they had a centerfielder, I told Will, if you cannot get it to Guillermo, call timeout," coach Frank Haith said. "He obviously threw it to Gary. He must have known something we all did not know. We didn't play the percentages, but Gary went to the line and made two free throws like a confident shooter."
Robert Hite scored 21 points and Anthony Harris added 15--all in the second half—as the University of Miami ended its two game skid with a 69-65 victory over Clemson.
With the Hurricanes leading 65-63, Guillermo Diaz drove the lane and Gary Hamilton followed with a tip-in to make it 67-63.
Clemson center, Sharrod Ford then made both of his free throws in a one-and-one situation with 1:17 in the game, 67-65 Miami's lead.
Miami then ran the clock down to 44 seconds, but Will Frisby was called for a traveling violation.
Miami's Eric Wilkins, a 66 percent free-throw shooter, secured the defensive rebound and was immediately fouled, but he missed both of his free throws.
Clemson had the ball with 16 seconds left in the game. Miami's Brandon Okpalobi tipped the inbound pass, disrupting Clemson's rhythm. Clemson got off a couple of desperation shots, but the ball was tipped out of bounds.
Hamilton, a 40 percent free-throw shooter, was immediately fouled, and made both free throws, securing a Miami victory, 69-65.
"I thought our execution down the stretch was great," Haith said. "I felt we made a lot of plays offensively and defensively."
Not only did the victory end a two game skid for the team, it ended the two-game slump of guard, Robert Hite. Hite scored 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, getting more confident with each bucket.
"Before, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and tonight I just tried to relax and play my game," Hite said. "My shots went down in the beginning of the game so I had to keep with and keep shooting."
"I tried to get him involved in the game early," Haith said. "I wanted to get him free throws and layups. I think he did that. Obviously, he was penetrating, and getting into the lane and doing some different things which was good to see."
In the second half, UM's guards combined to score 34 of the teams 42 points. Leading the charge was point guard Anthony Harris, who went 7-for-14, scoring all 15 points in the second half, and dishing out six assists.
"I kind of challenged Anthony a little bit at halftime," Haith said. "I thought he came out and handled himself well. Clemson did a great job of getting up into us. They are a very physical, aggressive team that is long and athletic. In the second half, we tried to spread them out, because we weren't getting penetration."
Miami opened the game with a 7-2 lead, but Clemson countered with a 9-2 spurt, taking an 11-9 lead. Miami could not separate from Clemson, holding two leads of the five in the first half.
Clemson took a 26-24 lead at 2:28 in the half and finished with a 31-27 lead going into halftime.
In the first half, Miami could not contain Clemson center Sharrod Ford, who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Robert Hite led Miami with nine points, going 4-for-7 from the field and William Frisby chipped in with seven points at the half.
Although Clemson shot just 36 percent from the field, they were the aggressor during the first half. The Tigers pulled down 10 offensive rebounds to Miami's six, attempted 13 free throws to Miami's five, scored 18 points in the paint to Miami's eight, and blocked four shots to Miami's two.
"I thought our team played well enough to win, but our team could have played better defensively in the second half," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We had some opportunities to put the ball in the basket coming down the stretch, and it just didn't seem to go in for us. There guards were good off the dribble. We did a good job in the first half, but we didn't do a good enough job in the second."
Of Miami's big men, Will Frisby had the most productive night, contributing with 11 points and eight rebounds.
NEXT GAME: Saturday, January 29 at Wake Forest, 4:00 pm.
Canes Defeat Clemson, 69-65
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