Canes Dominate, Win 71-40

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - A dominating performance was what Miami needed heading into its first conference game next Sunday at N.C. State and it's exactly what the Hurricanes got as they dominated Wofford College 71-40 in front of 2,195 fans at the BankUnited Center Saturday night.

After starting off a bit sluggish while taking a 33-25 lead into the half, Miami (6-3) dominated the second half, holding Wofford to 15 points while looking as crisp and clean offensively as they have all season.

Up 26-25 with 2:12 to play in the first half, the ‘Canes went on a 7-0 run to got into the half up eight, but the momentum carried right over as they opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take a 42-25 lead with 16:18 to play.

A combination of players keyed the run as Anthony King had a lay up and nice move to the basket that he finished with a powerful dunk. Robert Hite finished the run with a three-pointer.

"The start of the ball game we came out trying too had," UM coach Frank Haith said. "I felt we settled for some shots. In the second half, we really executed. Our defense was key. We did a great job of contesting shots, did a great job of rebounding the ball and running. I was really encouraged how we played in the second half."

It started though with the hustle plays from Raymond Hicks and Jimmy Graham that got the squad going in the second half. One in particular was a play that saw Hicks dive to the baseline to try to get a loose ball. He didn't reach the ball, but it lit up the crowd and motivated the team.

"Particularly in that spot there, that's got to be an energy spot with Jimmy and Ray." Haith said. "They've got to dive on the floor for the loose ball. If they do that, they'll really help this club. Ray can play with a lot of energy. Jimmy is getting better and better. You can see the confidence in his play."

Graham finished with only four points, but his ten rebounds and four steals were big. He also had four boards on the offensive side that helped the ‘Canes dominate Wofford 48-26 on the glass. Miami grabbed 19 offensive rebounds overall.

With a 17 point lead at 47-30, the ‘Canes went on another run that pretty much sealed the win as they outscored the Terriers 13-3 over the next three minutes to take a 60-33 lead with 8:01 to play.

Hicks was key on the run with two steals, an assist, a rebound and a lay up that closed the run.

"Energy is what we need from guys like Jimmy and Ray," Hite said. "If they play like that, they will really help the team."

Guillermo Diaz, who spent a lot more time playing on the wing now that point guard Anthony Harris is now able to play after missing the first seven games of the season, finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and four rebounds.

Hite added 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and six rebounds. He spent much of the game also harassing his former high school teammate Byron Fields limiting him to seven points.

"When we were on the court, he wasn't my boy, but we'll talk now after the game," Hite said. "I might mention two or three times that I put 16 on him."

Anthony King finished with his third double-double on the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds, five of them on the offensive glass.

But the key of the game was defense as the ‘Canes smothered Wofford's top scorer Howard Wilkerson, limiting him to seven points and two rebounds.

In last season's home opener, Wilkerson put 23 points up and grabbed nine rebounds on Miami while dominating the block. The Terriers had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds before falling 67-64. It was a different story as he was virtually invisible Saturday.

"We tried to keep him from a rhythm," Haith said. "We ran guys at him to make him pick up his dribble when he would turn and face. King did a great job to keep him off the block. We didn't allow him to turn and face."

After struggling mightily on the road at Temple and Michigan, the ‘Canes get a chance to redeem themselves on the road in Raleigh before coming back to face off against Florida on December 22 and Louisville on New Year's Eve at the Office Depot Center.

"It's a tough stretch for us," Haith said. "We start on the road against a ranked team. They play a certain style you have to prepare for. Elian Evtimov sets a tone for them offensively. We have to go in there ready to play, and that's what we are focusing on."

Said Graham who is from Goldsboro, North Carolina, just an hour from Raleigh.

"It's going to be crazy." Miami (6-3) - Diaz 17, Hite 16, King 10, Clemente 9, Harris 7, Asbury 4, Graham 4, Hamilton 2, Hicks 2.

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

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