Is that swagger we see coming from the University of Miami men's basketball team?
It sure looks like it because when Robert Hite drilled a three to give Miami a 68-48 lead with around two minutes to play, Guillermo Diaz let the Georgia Tech crowd know the game was over.
This game was at Georgia Tech, the same place Miami traveled to in its first ever ACC game last year. It was a game that Miami left its guts on the floor only to see its eight game winning streak evaporate in an 81-69 loss. What a difference a year makes.
This team has swagger. It's 3-2 on the ROAD in ACC games. It's hard enough to win three ACC road games in a season, let alone do it in the first five. With Duke, Maryland and Boston College remaining on the road schedule this year, if the ‘Canes can steal one of those and win out at home, an NCAA Tournament berth will be calling.
However, just winning out at home in games against North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida, the ‘Canes will have 10 conference wins, something that's almost a guarantee for a tournament spot regardless of the road games.
But at this point, is there any reason to doubt this team?
Since losing 71-51 at Virginia 11 days ago, Miami has beaten Florida State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech by an average of 12 points each game to improve to 14-8 overall, but more importantly 6-3 in the ACC behind only Duke and North Carolina State. And Miami gets another crack at N.C. State at home in its next game, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
More impressive is that Miami did not have its bread and butter going as the ‘Canes were poor from behind the arc, an area they generally need to excel from in order to win.
But when you get ten points from Raymond Hicks, one short of his career high, and a team high eight rebounds, good things are bound to happen.
What Miami did in the second half, makes the victory look even more impressive. After going into the half with the game tied at 33, the Hurricanes stormed through the Yellow Jackets outscoring them 37-20 in the final 20 minutes to turn a close game into a blowout.
The ‘Canes continued to play suffocating defense as they have all season en route to being the ACC's best defensive team allowing 63 points per game.
Diaz led Miami with 19 points while four other players scored in double figured as Anthony King and Anthony Harris had 11 each and Hite and Hicks added 10 each.
Anthony Morrow led Georgia Tech with 27 points, but the rest of his team added only 26 points total.
The ‘Canes wasted no time in the second half turning up the defensive pressure. They scored nine of the first 11 points in the second half to take a 42-35 lead, but blew it open over the game's next ten minutes.
Up 42-37 with 16:37 to play, the ‘Canes went on a 14-3 run to push the lead to 56-40 with just over seven minutes to play.
Harris' triple from the corner capped the run as the ‘Canes turned the lights out on Georgia Tech defensively. During the run, Tech missed 12 of its 13 field goal attempts and at one point missed nine straight.
Tech shot a paltry 39% from the field which is commonplace against the ‘Canes aggravating two-three zone defense that has seemingly given just about every team Miami has faced this year fits.
Just ask Clemson which scored only 38 points against Miami.
At the same time, Miami struggled from there as they were only five of 16 from three-point range, but were blistering from inside the three-point line connected on 23 of 42 shots, a torrid 55% from the field.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is the Basketball Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
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