To see more of Miami’s trip to March Madness, go to “Corey’s Stories: Dispatches from the NCAA tournament” at blogs.themiamihurricane.com.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday, beating Saint Mary’s 78-64.
Junior guard Jack McClinton scored a career-high 38 points, fueling the Canes to a 25-5 second-half run in the Hurricanes’ first NCAA Tournament game in six years, despite not practicing until Thursday because of a fever.
“It’s the best game I’ve seen him play,” head coach Frank Haith said. “I can’t imagine him having a better performance than he did today.”
Haith said McClinton, Jimmy Graham and James Dews were treated by the medical staff for fevers throughout the week and missed practice. Graham added seven points and nine rebounds off the bench.
“It’s been a rough week for me,” Graham said. “Monday and Tuesday I was bed-ridden, no class, no practice, so I’m feeling a lot better than I was.”
Patty Mills, a freshman from Canberra, Australia, led the Gaels with 24 points. The crowd chimed in with chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy” several times in the first half but were mostly quiet in the second as he went 4-of-14 as part of the Gaels’ 34 percent second-half field-goal shooting.
“He’s as good a point guard we played all year,” Haith said.
A rebounding edge of 14 and McClinton’s 32 second-half points helped the Hurricanes outscore the Gaels 51-32 in the final 20 minutes. McClinton scored ten straight points early in the half to help the Canes erase a 32-27 halftime deficit, finishing 12-of-19 from the field and 11-of-11 from the line. The Canes shot 50 percent in the second half after being 0-for-6 from three-point range in the first half.
“The first half we just had a lot of jitters,” guard Lance Hurdle said. “Second half was Miami basketball.”
Miami takes on second-seeded Texas Sunday at 2:15 p.m. on CBS (Miami’s channel 4). Haith will take on his mentor, Rick Barnes, under whom he was an assistant for four years with the Longhorns.
“He’s my best friend,” Haith said. “I really don’t want to play against him, but if we don’t win I want to pull for Texas because of what he’s meant to me.”
Corey Erb may be contacted at email@example.com.