The University of Miami men’s basketball team improved to 3-0 with a 75-62 win over the North Florida Ospreys Saturday night at the BankUnited Center.
The Canes finished the game on a 9-2 run over the game’s final three minutes to finish off North Florida. The Ospreys had cut the UM lead, which was 18 at one point, all the way down to six with a Parker Smith three-pointer.
“I just think it’s experience,” Malcolm Grant said. “We’ve been through it so many times last year where we’re up and we give up a big lead, but we’re using that experience this year to be successful.”
Durand Scott, despite a rough 1-for-10 shooting night from the floor, nailed four free throws down the stretch to seal the deal. The Canes collectively shot 20 of 26 from the line.
Scott, Grant and Garrius Adams registered double-figure scoring with Adams leading the way with 14 points.
Kenny Kadji pulled down 10 rebounds, but he didn’t get much help as rebounding continues to be an area of concern for this team. North Florida out-rebounded Miami 37-35 and the Canes relinquished 18 offensive rebounds.
“We’re a little bit short-handed in the frontcourt; it’s going to be like that all season long,” said Miami head coach Jim Larranaga after the game. “Guys basically need to battle harder.”
Larranaga was not pleased with his team’s effort defensively. He feels the units he puts out on the floor need to improve on getting back on the defensive end in transition.
“We’ve got to be much tougher defensively, second, smarter defensively,” Larranaga said. “Then lastly understand why the game plan is what it is and do a better job of executing the game plan.”
When playing man-to-man, the Canes surrendered much of their points in the paint. They then switched to a zone defense to counter that and the Ospreys were only able to score one field goal, a three-point basket, Larranaga said.
Miami’s three-point defense also concerns Larranaga. He calls it one of the weaknesses of the team in the early-going of the season. North Florida shot 38 percent from beyond the arc.
A bright spot for the Canes defensively was Raphael Akpejiori, who blocked four Osprey shots.
The Canes’ offense is displaying decent balance. Everyone knows they can hit the three, but their guards are also excellent at getting penetration, an area that was lacking in last season’s offense.
While they still have room for improvement in this area they are getting easy buckets on drives and off-ball cuts and are getting to the foul line.
Miami will now face Florida Gulf Coast University at home Tuesday night before it hits the road to Oxford, Miss., to face an Ole Miss squad on Black Friday that it defeated at the BankUnited Center last year.