Canes Fall to Virginia Tech

At least there was no quit in them this time. The University of Miami lost another tough game 92-85 to Virginia Teach Tuesday night at the BankUnited Center after cutting a 21-point lead to four in the game's final minutes, but it couldn't get over the hump in front of the 3,180 in attendance.

Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, it was the same story as in the past few games. They simply dug a hole too deep to climb out of, but more so, unlike the past three losses where they were blown out and seemingly quit down the stretch, the didn't go away without a fight this time.

"We have to play hard for 40 minutes," guard Denis Clemente said. "We don't play the first ten minutes and we are down 20 points. We played 30 minutes tonight. We have to play the whole game."

Clemente scored a career high 24 points Tuesday night and was the only reason the ‘Canes were able to make a run after falling behind 38-17 in the first half. He spearheaded a 12-4 run to close the half cutting the lead to 42-29 going into the break and kept the ‘Canes going in the second half as they crept back into the game.

"Denis was outstanding," UM coach Frank Haith said. "He got nicked up late in the game and just couldn't finish the game, but he came to compete the way you need to in the ACC."

The ‘Canes featured a four guard line up for much of the game with either Ray Hicks or Dwayne Collins playing center, but with Collins not playing well Tuesday, most of the night, they featured a line up of Clemente, Jack McClinton, Anthony Harris, Hicks and Brian Asbury, with James Dews seeing a lot of playing time off the bench.

Joining Clemente were two players that had been production no shows the past few games.

McClinton who is still the ‘Canes leading scorer, but has struggled mightily since hurting his knee against Binghamton, came on strong in the second half and finished with 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting from the field.

"I've been trying to get my head back together," McClinton said. "You can't feel good when you are losing, but we gotta keep working. We've got nine games left."

Raymond Hicks added 16 points and 7 rebounds and played his best game of the season. He was 4 for 11 from the field, but was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw and was very aggressive.

"The coaches are challenging me and everything," Hicks said. "It always feels good to be playing. I have to give back to this team and not just settle for anything."

After being thoroughly dominated in the first half, the ‘Canes made a few surges, but because of their lack of size and inability to keep the Hokies from shooting a blistering percentage (58.1%) from the field, there simply wasn't enough in the tank to get them over the hump.

Down 68-57 with 7:57 to play, the ‘Canes went on a 17-10 run to cut the lead to 78-74 following lay up by McClinton, but could not cut it any closer.

The ‘Canes take back to the court again January 31 as they host North Carolina.

"We competed the last 30 minutes of the game," Haith said. "But the first ten minutes, we were no competitive. We could never get over the hump."

Miami (9-12, 2-5) – Clemente 24, McClinton 18, Hicks 16, Asbury 14, Harris 6, Collins 4, Dews 3.

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

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