Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Strong Second Half Leads Miami Past Alabama, 73-66


A second half surge and a balanced effort offensively carries the Miami Hurricanes to a — victory over the sixth-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide. Miami had five different players score 9 or more points on Saturday. The Hurricanes were without Angel Rodriguez, who missed the game because of a sprained right wrist, and Sheldon McClellan was held to 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Despite missing one of their best players in Rodriguez, and a slow offensive performance from their leading scorer, the Hurricanes move on to the third round of the NIT with this win.

The first half was a mirage of the entire Hurricanes season. Miami came out shooting the ball well, and played good defense for most of the first half, and took a 27-18 lead thanks to a 12-1 run over a six minute span.

After the Hurricanes jumped out to that nine-point lead, the Crimson Tide switched up to a 2-3 matchup zone, and like the zone has done for much of the season, it created a lot of problems to a Miami offense that became stagnant.

Alabama quickly responded with a 16-3 run to end the half to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room. Alabama’s zone held Miami without a single point for the last 3 minutes and 44 seconds of the first half. The Tide were able to force 9 Miami turnovers in the first half, while Miami was only able to turn Alabama over four times in the first twenty minutes.

The sixth-seeded Crimson Tide finished the first half with 8 points off Miami turnovers. Miami shot 37% from the floor in the first half, and pounded the Crimson Tide on the boards, outrebounding them 21-14. Alabama shot 48% from the floor in the first half, and was led by Retin Obasohan’s 11 first half points.

The second half started off slowly for Miami, but it was a much better performance by the Canes, and they were able to create some separation and ultimately pick up the win.

Alabama scored four of the first five points in the second half to take a 38-31 lead early on in the first half. The first ten minutes of the second half was a seesaw battle between both teams, but once Miami was able to get a comfortable lead, they didn’t look back.

McClellan scored his only two points on a nice alley-oop connection with Deandre burnett that tied the game up at 45. Burnett gave the Hurricanes a huge spark off the bench, and did what he does best: get buckets. Burnett finished with 13 points and hit back-to-back threes in the second half to give Miami a four-point lead with under 10 to go in the game.

Burnett, however, wasn’t the only one that picked up the missing production that McClellan and Rodriguez usually give the Hurricanes. Manu Lecomte got the start in place of Rodriguez and he came up huge for the Canes, leading the team with 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting. Ivan Cruz Uceda also gave Miami a nice spark, especially in the first half, finishing with 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Perhaps the best part of the game (or at least the biggest roar from the crowd) was when Tonye Jekiri took a straightaway three that bounced around every part of the rim, and eventually went in for the 7-footer. Jekiri followed that with a three-to-the-dome gesture, and everyone in the arena went crazy.

That three was not only a lot of fun, but it also gave the Hurricanes a 5-point lead with 8:20 left to play. Jekiri finished one point shy (if only he would’ve gotten fouled during that three) of a double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his sharpshooting skills.

Miami’s defense held Alabama’s offense to just 31% in the second half and 39% for the game. The Crimson Tide had a span in the second half in which they missed 14 out of 18 shots. That’s not very good.

Miami, on the other hand, shot 44% in the second half and outscored Alabama by 11 in the half.

The Hurricanes played a good game on Saturday morning, and the crowd was a lot better than most people anticipated it to be. Miami is now one game away from getting to Madison Square Garden for the NIT final four, and that’s a good thing. The Hurricanes obviously didn’t get into the big dance but an NIT win will give this team (which returns pretty much everyone) a big boost heading into next season.

Miami will play their third round game on Tuesday against the winner of Richmond and Arizona State. If Richmond wins, Miami will be the road team and if Arizona State wins, Miami will get to host the game at the BankUnited Center.