Miami had opportunities to win each of its first two ACC games this season but just couldn’t find a way to close the deal in the second half of either game.
Sometimes a third time is just the charm, especially when you have a certain team’s number.
Rion Brown tallied a double-double, scoring 19 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, and Erik Swoope came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points to lead Miami to a 63-57 victory over North Carolina Wednesday night to notch its fourth straight win over the Tar Heels.
Miami (9-6, 1-2) fell behind 8-0 in the opening minutes of the game but never faltered in a tough road environment, responding right away with a 10-0 run. The Hurricanes took a 29-23 lead into the locker room after Garrius Adams hit a buzzer-beater three to end the first half.
The Hurricanes continued that momentum in the second half, building a 46-33 lead with an 11-0 run that included a Brown three-pointer and two ferocious dunks by Swoope. North Carolina (10-5, 0-2) answered with a 10-1 run to cut the deficit to four with 5:20 remaining but Miami fired right back with an 11-2 spurt thanks to two 3-point plays by Swoope to run its lead back to double digits at 57-45.
Swoope played a season-high 25 minutes as Donnavan Kirk was in foul trouble all night long. He made the most of those minutes, making five of eight shots from the field after scoring just 19 points total in Miami’s first 14 games of the season. Tonye Jekiri was also a force on Miami’s frontline, snatching a career-high 10 rebounds.
The Hurricanes never trailed in the second half thanks to their smothering zone defense that held the Tar Heels to 30.8 percent shooting for the night. That zone defense also held North Carolina scoreless for stretches of 4:43 and 4:38 in the first half.
Miami now has a week off before it faces Florida State at home next Wednesday night at 9 PM.