The Hurricanes defeated Team Georgia 93-67 Wednesday night at the Convocation Center in their final exhibition match of the preseason.
The ‘Canes came into the match 0-1 in exhibition play, losing to the Nike Elite team 88-86 on November 2.
Senior forward Darius Rice has been named a candidate for the John R. Wooden College Basketball Player of the Year Award and the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. Rice finished the 2002-03 season leading the ‘Canes in double figure scoring games with 26. He also led in 40-point scoring games and dunks.
“The biggest thing that was impressive was balanced scoring,” said Head Coach Perry Clark. “It’s going to be important for us throughout the course of the year…the newcomers have the ability to shoot the basketball, which will [also]make us a tough team to zone.”
Rice went 13-for-23 on the night with a trio of three-point shots. Junior forward William Frisby went five-for-eight, while sophomore guard Robert Hite finished six-for-15. Sophomore Gary Hamilton had a team-high eight total rebounds. The ‘Canes shot 46.1 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three-point range, and 69.6 percent from the line. They totaled six blocks, 22 assists, and 48 rebounds.
The Hurricanes got on the board early in the first half and maintained their lead. Rice hit a three pointer to widen Miami’s lead to seven with 14:52 remaining. The heavily penalized Team Georgia appeared to be quickly closing in when a Richard Dodson fake closed the gap to two points. Hite made it 20-16 on a fast break. A Hamilton block led to a Georgia foul, and Hamilton went two-for-two from the line, extending the lead to 11. Freshman guard Guillermo Diaz had a slam-dunk to increase the lead to 36-22 with 1:47 left in the half. The ‘Canes went into the locker room leading 42-24.
Hite started the Hurricanes off in the second half but was taken out after being injured seven minutes into the period. Sophomore guard Eric Wilkins increased the lead to 50-30 early on, and UM was able to hold on for the rest of the contest. A vicious Miami block followed by a Team Georgia backcourt violation set up another Diaz slam dunk, making it 63-43. Georgia started slowly coming back with a pair of three point shots, but its momentum didn’t last long as Hite reappeared and the ‘Canes again pulled comfortably ahead by 21 with four minutes still to play. They wrapped up the contest 93-67 on an Anthony Harris three-pointer.
Diaz generated excitement on the court, pumping the crowd up with his aesthetically pleasing dunks.
“He is my kind of player,” Rice said. “Anyone that gets the crowd involved.”
After missing last season, Frisby was eager to get his first plays in at the Convocation Center.
“My adrenaline was pumping tonight, I was ready to go,” Frisby said. “I am happy to be here.”
Clark is optimistic about the upcoming season, looking for his last chance at a Big East title. The final match of the preseason can only help.
“That’s what exhibition games are for-you find out what you can and can’t do,” he said.
Miami begins the season at 7:30 on November 21 against Lubbock Christian in Coral Gables.
Melissa Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.