Someone finally joined ACC leading scorer Jack McClinton at the round table Sunday night as Anthony Harris scored a season-high 21 points.
Following losses to Buffalo, Cleveland State and Northwestern, it was a must win for the ‘Canes who saw struggles from the field from everyone except McClinton.
But on Sunday night, Harris played like the leader he is supposed to be scoring a season high 21 points after not being able to find the basket in the first seven games of the season.
"It was just a lot of things going on, I felt good today, stuck with it,' said Harris a senior point guard. "A lot of my teammates were keeping me up, I had to challenge myself. I just went out and there I played. Tried not to think and just help my team."
McClinton led the ‘Canes with 22 points, but it was Harris who came up with big shots down the stretch as the ‘Canes never trailed in the second half after McClinton swished a three-pointer from the wing at the buzzer giving them a 37-36 lead heading into the half.
"It was kind of a momentum swing at the half, we make a shot at the buzzer, we were really giving up a lay up after botching up a play, but we hustled back, got into the fray. I was proud of how poised we were. James Dews made a nice play here, hit Jack for a wide open three," UM coach Frank Haith said.
Although the game was a reported sell out of 7,000, the BankUnited Center was half empty as there were at least a couple thousand empty seats, but those that did attend got a treat.
The ‘Canes led by as many as eight when they went up 75-67 with 5:07 to play on a driving lay up by Harris over Tech's Ra ‘Sean Dickey, but they ‘Canes went cold on their next few possessions and fouls allowed the Yellow Jackets to get back into the game as a three-pointer by Lewis Clinch and five free throws cut the lead to 77-75 when Collins came
But the biggest plays of the game came from freshman Dwayne Collins who came up with back-to-back dunks after Georgia Tech cut Miami's lead to two at 77-75 with just over three minutes to play, but a Collins put back dunk following a lay up missed by McClinton and a second dunk by Collins pushed Miami's lead to 81-75 on a dish by Harris.
"I really didn't think about it much," Collins said of his dunks.
However, they were game changers according to Haith.
"I was really proud of Dwayne. He did not practice yesterday. Dwayne had a crash course today in walk through. Because of him not being here, it was big for him to come in and make plays. Those were two huge plays. He had two great finishes and that was key," Haith said.
Miami though continued to be impressive on offense when playing at home as it improved to 4-0 on its home court and is now averaging 89.3 points per game at home.
Although he had a tough night from the floor shooting 4 for 14 from the floor, McClinton was lights out from the line going 10 for 10 and finishing with 20 points for the fifth straight game.
But Harris and Brian Asbury stepped up to join him in the scoring. Harris scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half. He also had five assists to only one turnover.
Asbury finished with 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting and eight rebounds while dominating his match up against Tech's Thaddeus Young who is considered an NBA lottery pick in next year's draft. Young finished with only two points in 20 minutes.
Besides battling the talented Yellow Jackets, the ‘Canes also battled foul problems as Jimmy Graham, Ray Hicks and Collins all fouled out. Senior Anthony King missed the second half after hurting his right wrist in the first half. He had played far better than in previous games having scored seven points in 14 minutes. He also had three rebounds and a blocked shot.
"We were just trying to finish the game," Haith said. "I am just proud of the way the guys executed down the stretch. Hopefully, we can build on this."
Miami (5-3) – McClinton 22, Harris 21, Asbury 16, Hicks 11, King 7, Collins 6, Graham 5, Clemente 2.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at email@example.com
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