Canes Win Big Over Clemson, 62-38

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The University of Miami's defense couldn't be that good, could it? But the reality is, a combination of good defense and deplorable shooting led to Miami's fourth straight win and third straight conference win as the ‘Canes demolished Clemson 62-38 in front of a far less than full sold out crowd at the BankUnited Center Wednesday night.

After falling behind 10-1 in the first seven minutes of the game, the ‘Canes held the Tigers to 28 points over the next 33 minutes.

Clemson shot an abysmal 25.4% from the field in scoring its third lowest output since the inception of the shot clock.

Clemson's two lowest scoring outputs coming in were a 53-35 loss to Oregon in 1999 and a 61-37 loss to Virginia in 1995.

At the same time, it was a record setting performance by the ‘Canes as it was the lowest point total the ‘Canes have given up since the rebirth of the program. The previous low was in a 62-40 win over Central Connecticut State on February 15, 1990, when Bill Foster was the ‘Canes coach.

The win also upped Miami's record to 11-5 and 3-1 in the conference, good for second place in the ACC behind Duke.

"We played great defense in the second half," UM coach Frank Haith said. "But it was a combination of them missing some open shots and us recognizing their shooters."

Said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell, "It was just one of those nights. We went stone cold for three-quarters of the game, but give Miami credit. They were very active in their zone and tried to take away our shooters. They are a top echelon team in the ACC."

Major praise for a team that three games ago had been a far cry from even being a thought of making the NCAA Tournament after the ‘Canes poor 8-6 start while blowing games down the stretch.

In Miami's three wins over Maryland, North Carolina and Clemson the average score has been 76-59.

But with Miami's poor start and Clemson shooting ball well in the game's first seven minutes, just making a comeback was what was on their minds.

"Rob (Hite) made a few steals, knocked some balls away and the momentum swung our way," Haith said.

Hite finished with 11 points.

However, it was Anthony Harris who carried the team in the first and really kept them in the ballgame when Guillermo Diaz couldn't find the ocean. Diaz was 0 for 7 in the first half and scored only one point, but came around in the second half to finished with 12 points.

But Miami's offensive woes in the first half led to Harris missing the final 18-plus minutes of the second half as he cramped up and was a no-go in the second half. But when he was in there, he scored eight points and dished six assists in 17 minutes of play.

"He was the one guy that was willing to deck the ball and get into the paint," Haith said of Harris. "Not just for himself, but he made a lot of passes in the paint to get other players lay ups.

"But he started to cramp up," Haith said. "He was trying to go in the second half, but just couldn't get back on the court."

Freshman Denis Clemente, who started the first seven games of the season, stepped up big in Harris' absence as he entered the game with the ‘Canes leading 29-23.

"It was great to see Denis give us those minutes where he could come up big," Haith said.

Clemente made his impact felt immediately when he found Hite in the corner for a three-pointer and a nine-point lead. He followed that up with a rebound and a lay up and an assist to Gary Hamilton for a 37-23 lead with 15:23 to play.

"He played real good," Diaz said. "He went in there with a lot of confidence and he had to stay in the game. I was talking to him a little and kind of joking with him to keep him happy and stuff. That's what I did. He had to stay loose. He just played."

Clemente finished with ten points, three assists and a steal in 20 minutes.

At the same time, Clemson's poor shooting turned horrific.

After cutting the lead to eight with 13:09 to play, the Tigers could not crack the scoreboard again until 6:10 remained in the game when Julius Powell scored on a short hook. By that point, Miami led 53-31 after having gone on a 16-0 run during that seven-minute span.

The ‘Canes pushed the lead to 26 points on two occasions before Haith cleared his bench.

"There's a lot of games to be played," Haith said. "We were 3-1 last year at this point in the ACC. There's a lot of ball to be played. This is just the first part of it. We can't become complacent. We've got room for improvement. I think we can improve because we've got guys that want to be good players. They want to be good. That's what is special about this group."

Miami (11-6) – Diaz 12, Hite 11, King 11, Clemente 10, Harris 8, Hamilton 4, Thomas 3, Hicks 3.

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

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