The University of Miami’s men’s basketball team had 11 days to stew over the overtime loss to Virginia Tech back on Dec. 8 before resuming play, but the break for final exams apparently has done the Hurricanes some good.
After playing what coach Jim Larranaga called 30 minutes of good basketball in a 68-51 win at Savannah State last Thursday in their first game back, the Hurricanes delivered what he described as “full game” both offensively and defensively in beating La Salle 71-58 Sunday afternoon.
“This is our best game of the season so far,” Larranaga said as the Hurricanes improved to 7-5 on the season. “We shared the ball -- we had 13 assists -- and we only had seven turnovers.
“We shot 47 percent, which is good for us. We defended well -- we held them to 38 percent. Now, they did make some 3s late, but the first half they were only 3-for-10.”
The Hurricanes got 17 points and nine rebounds from guard Rion Brown, 13 points and three assists from guard Garrius Adams, and 10 points and a blocked shot from forward James Kelly.
Forward Donnavan Kirk had nine rebounds, giving him 29 over his last three games, and blocked four shots in addition to scoring nine points. Center Tonye Jekiri came off the bench to score nine points, getting three of his four field goals on alley-oop dunks, and guard Manu Lecomte had five points and two assists against no turnovers in 28 minutes.
Lecomte seems to be playing with more confidence since he hasn’t been starting. At one point against La Salle (6-6), the freshman ignored or didn’t hear his coach yelling at him to pull up on a break and instead penetrated the lane and hit a jumper.
“Where did that come from?” Larranaga said, smiling.
All in all, it was a good way for the Hurricanes to go into a break for Christmas.
Miami, which is completely rebuilding from last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship season, looks to be more settled in than the team that lost a nine-point lead over the final five minutes of regulation in the loss to Virginia Tech.
“That has been on our minds and will continue to be on our minds for the rest of the season,” Brown said of the collapse and eventual loss to the Hokies.
The Hurricanes now will have a brief break for Christmas, taking off the next few days before regathering on Dec. 26 to prepare for a home game against Loyola (Md.) on Dec. 30.
Miami gets back into ACC play with road games at Syracuse (Jan. 4) and North Carolina (Jan. 8) to start off the new year.