The Hurricanes’ season and their NIT run ended simultaneously last night at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
It’s not the way the Canes looked to end, but Alabama rolled pasted Miami 79-64 at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tide now look forward to an NIT Final Four matchup with Colorado.
Miami had to battle to get back into the game after trailing by 10 points at halftime with 10 turnovers on the stat sheet. The Hurricanes cut Alabama’s lead down to 42-41 after a layup by junior forward DeQuan Jones, but the Crimson Tide engineered a 26-10 run in the second half and ended the Canes’ season on a sour note.
Though the Canes combined for just 15 turnovers in their first two NIT games, Alabama forced them into 19 giveaways Wednesday night.
Sophomore guard Durand Scott led the Hurricanes with 19 points and redshirt sophomore forward Reggie Johnson had 14 points. Jones added 12 points and three steals.
The Hurricanes needed plays from their impact players but Alabama didn’t allow them. Sixth-year senior forward Adrian Thomas didn’t score and redshirt junior guard Malcolm Grant had six points but didn’t get to the free throw line. The Hurricanes finished the year 21-15 and 6-10 in the ACC. The Canes won their first two games in the NIT against Missouri State and FAU.
The Hurricanes struggled in the opening half against Missouri State, but opened the second half under the guidance of Adrian Thomas, who knocked down four 3-pointers. The Canes continued to fight off the Bears and a pair of free throws by freshman guard Rion Brown in the final minute sealed the win for Miami, 81-72.
“It’s a great win for us,” Haith said. “We beat a really good Missouri State basketball team. We came out ready to play in the second half; we were stagnant early in the ball game. Thomas gave us a lift.”
Scott had 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Thomas had 16 points and Grant added 10 points.The Hurricanes took care of business in the first round by dismantling FAU 85-62. Grant led Miami with 23 points and Johnson had 14 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Scott had 19 points and four assists.
Haith was pleased that impact players stepped up and responded after losing a 19-point lead against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
Reggie was a major factor,” said Haith, “Malcolm was outstanding, scored 10 straight points in one point of the time. Durand was outstanding, only took six shots.”
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