As if the Signing Day hoopla wasn’t enough, the men’s basketball team created more drama on the night shift at the BankUnited Center.
It took everything Jim Larranaga’s squad had in them to come away with the win over Maryland Wednesday night. With Kenny Kadji out, Larranaga battling the flu and three Hurricanes fouled out by the second overtime, Miami pulled off the 90-86 victory.
“I think we stuck together as a team and did the correct things coach told us to do,” junior guard Durand Scott said. “Us just coming in with that great energy and that great focus helped us tremendously.”
Miami has now won three straight and is above .500 in conference play for the first time all season at 4-3.
The Hurricanes began the second overtime period on a 7-0 run and never looked back. Rion Brown, Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones went a combined 6-for-6 at the line in the final 30 seconds to seal the deal.
The first overtime ended at 76-76, with Malcolm Grant missing a contested 3-pointer and Pe’Shon Howard missing a rushed heave of his own as time expired.
The Canes blew a 16-point lead in the final 7:10 of regulation, forcing the first overtime. The Terrapins’ run began after Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was given two quick technical fouls and an ejection for arguing an offensive foul called against his team.
“Everybody was just playing inspired. Everybody was trying to win for coach,” said Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin, the ACC’s leading scorer. “We felt it was unfair that he got those technicals.”
Stoglin, who struggled in the first half with just four points, had racked up 33 by night’s end with a flurry of difficult jump shots to get Maryland back in the game. He had a chance to end things with the last shot in regulation, but Durand Scott played close on defense and contested his long jumper.
Larranaga was expected to miss Wednesday’s game because of his illness – assistant Eric Konkol would have called the shots – but making his best Willis Reed impersonation, Larranaga appeared on the floor minutes before the opening tip.
“He had a miraculous comeback as we did as a team,” Konkol said. “It was a gutsy performance on all accounts.”
Expecting Larranaga to miss his first game ever as a coach, Miami assistants rallied together before the game and mimicked Larranaga’s routines to prepare the team the same way he would. Larranaga did not attend the post-game press conference after the win.
While Miami did have its coach, it was short-handed personnel-wise for both overtimes and the end of regulation. With Kadji already out, Scott, Reggie Johnson and Raphael Akpejiori all fouled out.
Scott left the game toward the end of the first overtime. In his 40 minutes on the floor, he did it all, finishing with 24 points off 11-of-14 shooting, eight rebounds and seven assists – all team highs for the game and individual season highs.
Johnson and Akpejiori made their exits near the five-minute mark of regulation. It was devastating for the Canes to miss all of their big men for the home stretch as 6-foot-8 DeQuan Jones was left as the tallest player on the floor for the Canes in the physical duel.
Kadji watched from the sidelines in a warm-up suit because of a head injury sustained in Tuesday’s practice, when he fell and hit the ground hard during a rebounding drill. Konkol said keeping him out was a precautionary measure and it is unknown when he’ll be back.
The Canes will carry their momentum into Raleigh, N.C. for a battle against No. 7 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.
Senior Sports Writer
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