Miami Improves to 6-3 with 79-58 Victory

CORAL GABLES - Miami looked like it hadn't woken up for the early 1 o'clock game Saturday afternoon at the BankUnited Center, but a late surge in the first half and the shooting of Brian Asbury led the ‘Canes to a 79-58 win over Lehigh in front of 2,917 fans.

Trailing by as many as 11 points early as the Mountain Hawks took a 16-5 lead just over four minutes into the game, the ‘Canes slowly crept back into the game finishing the half on a 15-4 run to take a 36-33 lead into the half when Asbury drained a three-pointer with four seconds left in the half.

That three sparked Asbury as he scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, including four three-pointers that allowed Miami to pull away in the second half.

"That was great," UM coach Frank Haith said Asbury's second half shooting. "I've said it all along, the more Brian Asbury gets court time, the more he's going to take off. The two of these guys (Jack McClinton and Asbury) they are roommates. Jack has been a tremendous influence on Brian, understanding how hard you have to work. The more court time he gets, he's going to continue to get better."

McClinton also continued his hot shooting as he was 7 for 14 from the field, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc finishing with a team high 21 points. It marked the sixth straight game that McClinton has cracked the 20-point mark as he continues to lead the ACC in scoring averaging 21 points per game.

But joining them today was Denis Clemente who had his best game of the season scoring 8 points, but more impressively dishing a career high 9 assists without a turnover.

But it was a 12-0 run late in the second half that proved to be the difference. Leading 63-55 with 5:27 to play, Asbury swished a three and McClinton seven of the next nine points giving Miami a 75-55 lead with 1:57 to play.

The two points that McClinton didn't score were on an emphatic alley-oop by Raymond Hicks on a great pass from Clemente that rocked the BankUnited Center.

Playing their first game this year without starting center Anthony King who is out for at least four weeks with a sprained ligament in his right wrist, the ‘Canes struggled early and were unable to protect the basket or rebound as Lehigh was getting easy looks allowing it to shoot nearly 54% from the field in the first half.

Although Miami outrebounded Lehigh by ten at the end of the game, in the first half the rebounding difference was a lot closer with Miami outrebounding Lehigh by only two.

Haith made a point to mention Jimmy Graham as a player that has to step up and be a difference maker in the post with King sidelined, especially on the glass, while Hicks has to be a player that puts some points on the board from the post.

"A lot about rebounding is about desire," Haith said. "We need more out of Jimmy Graham."

Graham struggled scoring only six points, but only had four rebounds. Hicks, on the other hand, stepped up scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds together with three steals and brought an emotion to the game that the ‘Canes needed.

"I thought Ray Hicks production was very good," Haith said. "We wanted him to be more aggressive. He did that for us tonight."

The ‘Canes though will have a quick turnaround following Saturday's game as they welcome Mississippi State to the BankUnited Center 7:00 p.m. Monday night.

"It's a big opportunity for us to get a quality win against a power conference team," Haith said.

Miami (6-3) – McClinton 21, Asbury 18, Hicks 13, Clemente 8, Graham 6, Harris 6, Dews 3, Gilbert 2, Collins 2.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at rudy@canestime.com

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