First Start a Success for Clemente

It was his first start of the season, but the change from bench to starter proved to make a major difference for the University of Miami men's basketball team as Denis Clemente scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half as the ‘Canes jumped out to an early 16-3 lead en route to an 89-64 win over Stetson Saturday afternoon at the BankUnited Center.

Denis Clemente was a key part of the opening run that gave Miami a 16-3 lead eight minutes into the game as he scored seven points during the run. He also had five assists in the game.

His fast-paced game allowed the ‘Canes to push the ball up the court and beat the Mad Hatters for easy buckets early and often.

The early run allowed the ‘Canes to control the game as Stetson never got closer than nine points on two different occasions.

"I played good because I started 13 games last year. I didn't feel scared or nervous," Clemente said. "I am focused to start. I feel good and want to keep going like that.

The change apparently helped Anthony Harris as well who was demoted to the bench after struggling in the team's first ten games with the exception of Miami's win over Georgia Tech.

Harris came off the bench to score 11 points.

But it was Clemente that set the tone from the outset as his ferocious pace allowed Miami to take a 39-28 lead into the half.

It also kept the ‘Canes going in the second half as Miami scored 50 second half points and went on a 14-0 run that allowed the ‘Canes to blow the game open at 73-47 late in the second half.

Clemente likes the idea of him being in the starting line up because he brings an energy to the team that allows the team to start off fast, unlike the past two games when the ‘Canes struggled early against Lehigh and Mississippi State.

"We need to start the game hard. We can't play cool guy in the ACC," Clemente said. "We can't do that. We have to play hard 20 minutes in the first half, and then play hard 20 minutes in the second half."

He also loves having freshman Dwayne Collins on the floor with him as well because Collins' athletic ability allows Clemente to push the ball up the court and have someone flying up the court right near him, especially with the alley-oop as such a vital tool to Collins' games right now.

"I like it (starting with Collins) because you can throw it high to him," Clemente said. "As high as you throw it, he can catch the ball. He's got big hands and is very athletic."

Whether or not he remains in the starting line up after Saturday's game remains to be seen, but he likes the idea of starting because he feels he can always get the team out of the starting block quickly.

"I don't know (as far as starting)," Clemente said. "I am looking for the team run, for the team to run when the game is starting. I need guys on the wings to be quick and run cause I am quick. It brings the energy to the team."

And it resulted in a win Saturday afternoon.

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

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