At the end of the first half of Miami’s Saturday win over Morgan State, the Hurricanes led 36-26 but were struggling against full court pressure.
Then the second half came around and Miami dominated en route to an 83-51 victory.
Senior Robert Hite led the charge with three second half steals and a tie for the team high with 16 points. Guillermo Diaz also had 16 for the Hurricanes.
“I just wanted to give us a spark,” Hite said. “I just wanted to come out in the second half and raise the intensity a little bit.”
The most complete performance came from all-ACC Defensive Team member Anthony King, who posted 15 points and 13 rebounds. King was 5-for-5 from the field and drew contact underneath to get to the free throw line 11 times, only making five attempts.
“My team needs me to be a post presence inside,” King said. “And that’s what I am trying to do. As the season goes on, that is only going to help us.”
Other notable performances came from Gary Hamilton, who had 11 rebounds and Eric Wilkins, who gave Head Coach Frank Haith 18 minutes of tenacious defense.
“I thought in the second half we came out and played with the intensity we need to,” Haith said.
The team had an extra spark in the second half and showed fans at the newly named BankUnited Center why they should be excited about a squad that returned four starters from last year. The Hurricanes are without point guard Anthony Harris, but they must come together with some new faces to succeed in the ACC.
“We miss Anthony Harris,” Hite said. “But mainly we are just trying to find our way. A lot of the younger guys are trying to figure out what their role is.”
Hurricane fans will be holding their breath on Tuesday when Harris has an MRI on his foot to reevaluate him and see when he will be ready to rejoin the team.
In his absence, Denis Clemente gave Haith some time at point guard. While having an inexperienced point guard may hinder the team now, these are valuable minutes for Clemente to be getting.
Haith said he was happy with the improvements Clemente made from the first half to the second by passing the ball to the post players more.
“That’s part of the learning,” Haith said. “I am glad he has the ability to adjust.”
The most important thing players saw was the need for a complete effort in both the first and second half, Hite said.
“We still can’t come out with that lack of intensity,” Hite said. “You always have to come out and play hard everyday.”
Denis Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.