For a half, the University of Miami men's basketball team played about as good as anyone could expect as it was drubbing the University of Texas-Arlington at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Seattle, Washington, Sunday afternoon.
The ‘Canes jumped out to a 22-2 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game when Jimmy Graham hit the second of two free throws.
The lead bulged to 25 points when freshman point guard Denis Clemente hit a jumper to give Miami a 45-20 lead a minute into the second half and it looked like the ‘Canes were cruising to what looked like an easy victory.
They were shooting over 60 percent from the field and seemingly unstoppable.
But what ended up in a 76-65 season-opening win to advance them to the semifinals of the BCA Classic, the ‘Canes had a much tougher time than anyone could have expected after playing the first 21 minutes of the game phenomenally.
After pushing the lead to 25, the lid closed on the basket and what seemed so easy proved to be much harder than expected as the Mavericks pulled a Tom Cruise in Top Gun and stormed back into the game while shutting the ‘Canes down over the next ten minutes.
A 29-7 run cut the ‘Canes lead to 52-49 when Brady Dawkins hit a three with 8:29 to play.
But the ‘Canes recharged the batteries and after Texas-Arlington's Anthony Vereen hit a lay up to cut the lead to 56-53 with 6:40 to play, the ‘Canes finished the game on a 20-12 run.
Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz combined to score 13 of the team's final 20 points as they opened the season with a win.
Hite led the team with 17 points on 5 of 8 shooting while hitting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. He was also 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Diaz added 16 points. Although he was only 4-of-10 from the field, Diaz was 7-for-7 from the line, one the areas in his game that needed marked improvement from last year when he shot under 70 percent from the stripe.
Included was the fact he hit 6-of-6 in the final six minutes of the game that will be an integral part of his game as the season progresses.
The surprise of the game though was the production off the bench senior Gary Hamilton who came off the bench to provide a spark scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds before fouling out.
He was also a surprising 4-for-4 from the stripe.
The free throw line, in fact, was a very positive part of the game for the ‘Canes as they shot 89 percent from the line hitting 23 of 26 free throws, something that seemingly caused them a lot of problems last season.
In other areas, the ‘Canes freshman, Clemente, Brian Asbury, Graham and Adrian Thomas combined to score 18 points with Clemente leading the way with 8 points and 3 assists.
The ‘Canes take to the floor again Monday against Air Force, a 62-49 winner over Northern Arizona, at 11:00 p.m. eastern time. The winner will advance to the championship game Tuesday at 11:00 p.m. eastern time.
MIAMI (1-0) - Hite 17, Diaz 16, Hamilton 10, Clemente 8, King 7, Asbury 7, Hicks 4, Graham 2, Butler 2, Wilkins 2, Thomas 1
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
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