With captain Jack McClinton being ejected in the first half, the No. 21 Miami Hurricanes couldn’t overcome a second half surge from the Ohio State Buckeyes, losing 73-68.
The Buckeyes (4-0) were led by Jon Diebler, who scored 20 points and hit four 3-pointers in the second half. Evan Turner scored 19 points, with 17 coming in the second half.
Head coach Frank Haith attributes the loss to poor defense, as Miami (4-2) gave up 51 points in the second half.
“It was a tough game,” Haith said. “I think, all-in-all, our defense was not good in the second half. We lost our defensive focus and intensity. It was great in the first half. It was bad in the second half. That was the difference in the game.”
The Hurricanes had an early 19-7 lead after McClinton knocked down his fourth straight 3-pointer and sparked the Canes and the crowd. But before the shot, McClinton took a swipe at an Ohio State player’s face and Ohio State coach Thad Matta asked the referees to consult about the slap. After a TV replay conference, the referees ejected McClinton from the game with a flagrant foul.
“I heard it but I didn’t see it,” Matta said. “It’s a hard situation. He is one of the premier guards in the nation. He impressed me before the game and during the time he was in the game.”
McClinton had 12 points and was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers in eight minutes.
“It was tough [when] we lost Jack,” Haith said. “Jack reacted to what happened to him earlier. They always get the second guy. He has to learn he cannot do that. Losing Jack hurt.”
“Jack is a big leader for us,” senior Jimmy Graham said. “He is a big captain for us. It was different without him out there.”
The Hurricanes continued to fight without McClinton and built a 36-21 lead going into halftime.
But Ohio State started out on a 15-2 run and held Miami without a field goal for five minutes at the beginning of the second half. The Buckeyes took the lead on a 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining and didn’t look back.
The Hurricanes out-rebounded Ohio State, 44 to 30, but couldn’t overcome their shooting woes. Miami shot 26 percent from 3-point land and 64 percent from the free throw line.
Senior Lance Hurdle played 37 minutes and carried the Hurricanes with 14 points, but shot 2-10 on 3-pointers. Junior Cyrus McGowan finished with a double-double, notching 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Haith knew that with McClinton out, another player had to pick up the scoring slack.
“We needed someone to step up without Jack,” Haith said. “We had to make plays in the second half and we didn’t have the playmakers to do that. Give Ohio State credit, they made big plays.”
Miami was also without sophomore Eddie Rios, who was indefinitely suspended by Haith and the coaching staff before the game.
“Eddie is suspended from the team for violating team rules,” said Haith after the game.
This past weekend, McGowan led the way for the Hurricanes with 14 points as they defeated Stetson on Saturday, 79-65. Forward Dwayne Collins finished with 12 points and forward Jimmy Graham had eight points. McGowan, Collins and Graham combined for 23 rebounds.
Up next, the Canes will hit the road to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. to face the 5-2 Kentucky Wildcats. In their three meetings, Miami has never defeated Kentucky, but this year presents the Hurricanes their best opportunity.