November 11, 2011

Late rally lifts Miami Hurricanes over Golden Eagles in season opener

MIAMI, Fla. – Perhaps the biggest play of the night wasn’t made by any of the players.

A ball that was destined to sail out of bounds instead bounced off an official back into play and the Miami Hurricanes took advantage, using the lucky bounce to ignite a late rally on the way to an 11-point victory Friday night after Tennessee Tech had led for most of the contest.

Down by six and in dire straits with less than eight minutes to go, Miami used the ricochet to start a game-changing three-point play. The ‘Canes took a lead with 4:26 remaining and rode that turnaround to a 69-58 non-conference win that spoiled th head coaching debut of Tech’s Steve Payne.

On the other bench, first-year Miami coach Jim Larranaga claimed his 471st career win behind balanced scoring and solid control on the boards with a 42-26 advantage.

Durand Scott led UM with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists despite 3-for-12 shooting from the field against relentless Tech defensive pressure. All-ACC guard Malcolm Grant added 14 points, overcoming 4-for-11 shooting and five turnovers.

Also hitting double digits were Trey McKinney Jones with 12 points and Erik Swoope with 11 points. Swoope added six rebound and three steals.

Tech was paced in scoring by point guard Zac Swansey, who went 5-for-8 from 3-point range and hit 7-for-11 overall on the way to a game-best 19 points. Kevin Murphy added 13 points and Zach Bailey had 11 points, but both guards had trouble finding their shooting touch. Murphy was 5-for-15 and Bailey went 4-for-10.

Tech missed its first six shots and saw the ‘Canes race to a 10-0 start as Scott and Grant each knocked down 3-pointers.

But the Golden Eagles worked their way back into the game as Swansey scored the first five with a 3-pointer and a layup, and Bailey added a 3-pointer to make it 13-8.

Down by nine, 22-13, the Golden Eagles outscored Miami 16-3 over the final nine minutes to build a 32-27 lead by halftime. Murphy had eight points during the run and Swansey added two more 3-pointers.

Tech maintained its lead into the second half, and got a spark from sophomore guard Chase Dunn when he hit a 3-pointer with 12:34 to play and followed with a surprising, driving layup through traffic half a minute later to build the TTU lead to its largest of the night at 45-36.

Moments later, with Tech up 46-40, the ‘Canes got the benefit of the bounce off the official and with 7:44 to play, Raphael Akpejiori hit a three-point play to trim the lead to three.

Twice Tech weathered the storm when UM cut the difference to one point, but the Hurricanes kept at it and finally took the lead on a 3-pointer by Rion Brown with 4:26 to play for a 55-54 edge.

A minute later, McKinney Jones hit a 3-pointer – like Brown’s, his first of the night – and UM was up by four.

Tech fought back with back-to-back baskets by Murphy and Bailey, and got the ball on a turnover with 1:45 remaining for a chance to tie it again, but the Golden Eagles missed their final five shots of the night and Miami was able to pad their lead to the final 11-point difference.

The Golden Eagles return home to host Reinhardt College Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Eblen Center. The game is First Tennessee Bank Poster Night.

For individual game tickets or season tickets, visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or call (931) 372-3940.