Canes Win Home Opener 83-51, Now 3-1

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The University of Miami men's basketball team dropped an embarrassing game against a MEAC opponent last year when they fell 60-50 to South Carolina State. But in the ‘Canes home opener, they would not fall to the same fate as they drubbed MEAC member Morgan State 83-51 in front of 1,554 fans at the newly renamed Bank United Center.

Last week, both teams played in the BCA Classic in Seattle, Wash., as the ‘Canes went 2-1 and finished third. On the other hand, Morgan State did not fare well at all going 0-3 and losing by an average of 33 points per game, including a 118-51 destruction at the hands of Washington.

Since they didn't play each other the Bears decided to follow the ‘Canes to the fun and sun of Miami to meet up. Not on purpose of course as the schedule was made quite some time ago.

What they got was a serious sunburn--one that left them toasted as the ‘Canes exploded in the second half of their convincing win after leading by 10 at 36-26 at halftime.

The lead ballooned very quickly in the second half as Miami opened the half on a 12-4 run to push the lead to 48-30 five minutes into the second half.

Robert Hite led the run as he opened up with two quick baskets, the first on a fast break dunk, and then another lay up on the break.

Hite, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and four steals, said the team came out flat and that coach Frank Haith gave them a pep talk at the half to get them going.

"I wanted to come out and give us a spark in the second half," Hite said. "We opened the game flat. We needed to pick up the intensity. We came out with a lot more fire in the second half."

And it showed as the ‘Canes kept the pressure on throughout the half.

After Morgan State's Fred Lymas hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 15 at 55-40 with 10:27 to play, the ‘Canes went on a 19-6 run to up the lead to 28 with 4:38 to play.

Coming off a 57-53 loss to Air Force in Washington on Monday, the ‘Canes have blasted their last two opponents by an average of 29 points per game.

"I thought in the second half we came out and played with the type of intensity we need to play with for forty minutes," Haith said. "We got good pressure on the ball from all five guys in the second half.

"It's important that we get consistency."

Guillermo Diaz, who's gotten time at both the shooting guard and point guard positions, with the injury to starting point guard Anthony Harris, scored 16 points, grabbed five rebounds, and four assists.

Haith expressed his pleasure in the way Diaz has handled the adjustment to playing both positions.

"I am very happy with Guillermo," Haith said. "I thought he played well. He's playing two positions. I still want him to be aggressive, but I want him to be under control. I'd say he played 12 minutes at the point."

Said Diaz, "I feel like I am helping my team because we lost one of our guards and Denis is still learning how to play on a different level. Coach is giving me the opportunity to play and practice at the point, so it's easier now. Whatever they need me to play, I'll play it."

But in the first half, the show belonged to Anthony King who dominated the paint. He scored 15 points with13 rebounds, and two blocks. Twelve of his points came in the first half when the ‘Canes struggled a bit.

"King is really making great strides in his game," Haith said. "You can see that. If he makes his free throws, he gets 20 points today. His confidence has really improved. The kid has really worked so hard. The biggest factor is his confidence."

Confident he is, but even more so a team player is his mantra.

"My teammates need me to be a post presence inside," King said. "That's what I am trying to do as the season keeps going. I am just trying to be whatever they want me to be."

The ‘Canes return to the court Tuesday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m. to face North Carolina A&T in the second part of this MEAC opponent series where they look to put the MEAC to sleep.

Miami (3-1) - Hite 16, Diaz 16, King 15, Asbury 9, Graham 6, Hicks 6, Clemente 5, Hamilton 4, Thomas 4, Butler 1, Copeland 1

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com

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