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31 January 2010

Canes snap four-game losing streak

WISHES GRANTED: Redshirt sophomore Malcolm Grant drives to the basket past two Hokie defenders and scores on a floater. The Canes beat the Hokies 82-75 Sunday at the BUC. Alex Broadwell // The Miami Hurricane

Same building, different result.

The Miami Hurricanes did not have a déjà vu moment this time at the BankUnited Center. The Hurricanes nearly squandered a 19-point lead but held on to defeat Virginia Tech, 82-75 in front of 7,189 fans Sunday afternoon.

The Canes (16-5, 2-5 ACC) snapped a four-game losing streak against the Hokies (16-4, 3-3) and, more importantly, a four-game losing streak overall.

“It was a great win for us, one that we really needed,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We showed some toughness down the stretch. We knew they we going to make a run and we handled it. I’m really proud of our guys.”

The last time Miami played at home, the Canes blew a 17-point second half lead against Boston College and lost 79-75.

“We talked about [that loss],” Haith said. “We were disappointed. We learned from it. We have to protect our home court.”

But on this occasion the Hurricanes buckled down and made the plays when they needed to. Down the stretch, Virginia Tech couldn’t get within a five-point deficit of the Hurricanes lead.

Redshirt freshman center Reggie Johnson and senior guard James Dews sealed the Canes win with key free throws in the final minute.

The Canes as a team was 25-for-32 from the free throw line.

Dews led Miami with 21 points and Johnson added seven points, all coming from the free throw line in 13 minutes of action.

“We needed this,” said redshirt sophomore guard Malcolm Grant, who scored 13 points, nine coming in the second half.  “Now we feel good. We got to stay strong. We have to have the same concretion.”

This was a revenge win for Miami. The last time the Hurricanes and the Hokies squared off, Virginia Tech raced out to a dominating 35-point lead in the first half and routed Miami, 81-66. The ACC leading scorer, junior Malcolm Delaney had 28 points and a career-high nine assists.

It was a vice-versa this time around as the Canes jumped out to a controlling 17-point lead heading into halftime up, 47-30. Redshirt senior Adrian Thomas hit a three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired in the first half to give UM a jolt heading into the break.

“We wanted to start out quick and we did that,” said Haith, whose team shot 70 percent from the floor in the first half.

The key for UM was staying positive despite the fact they had not won a game in three weeks. Earlier this week the coaching staff made every player write down something positive about every teammate.

The goal was to filter out negative thoughts.

Haith knows there are ups and downs through out the ACC season but emphasizes there is still plenty of basketball left.

“We were 2-6 when we made the tournament two years ago,” Haith said. “There are a lot of games to be played.”

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.

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