“Big” win for Hurricanes

Finally 40 minutes of consistent and good basketball.

Throughout Tuesday’s game, head coach Frank Haith preached to his big men about not allowing Virginia to trap them and force ill-advised turnovers. They followed Haith’s advices.

Thanks to the dominating interior play, the Miami Hurricanes (18-9, 4-9) ended their two game skid and defeated the Virginia Cavaliers (14-12, 5-8), 74-62 Tuesday night at the BankUnited Center. Virginia has now lost four in a row.

Senior forward Dwayne Collins finished with 18 points, six rebounds and a tied career with high five assists. Redshirt sophomore forward Julian Gamble did his part by collecting career-highs with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“Obviously I thought our guys played really well today,” Haith said. “I thought our bigs were outstanding. Look at their numbers and what their production was, and to me, when we play like that, it gives us a chance.”

The Canes outscored the Cavaliers 36 to 16 in the paint.

Earlier this season, the Canes played in Charlottesville against the Cavs and the Hurricanes had a dreadful evening losing 75-57.

Then the Hurricanes were ranked in the top 25 and had high hopes for a NCAA Tournament appearance. Since that lose to Virginia, the Hurricanes have only won two games. Tuesday night, Miami took out their frustration.

The Canes held Virginia to 35 percent from the floor and only allowed them to score 10 fields goals inside the three-point arc.

“I thought our [defense] was outstanding, “ Haith said. “I thought our guys played extremely hard.”

On defense, Virginia was flustered and couldn’t find an answer for Collins or Gamble. Collins and Gamble combined to make 13 of 19 fields goals.

“I think it makes us more of a threatening offense if me and Dwayne can both produce inside,” Gamble said. “Coach talked to me about being a really aggressive rebounder, so I made that a focus today.”

Tied at 40, Miami went on an 18-5 run with Collins scoring eight of those points. The Hurricanes built a lead as large as 17 points. Freshman guard Durand Scott had 11 points and senior guard James Dews added 13 points and seven rebounds.

“I thought our guys played excellent,” Haith said. “I thought we got out and ran in transition, and we got some easy buckets and we executed well.”

The Hurricanes will face two teams that are below them in the ACC standings in their next two games in N.C. State and North Carolina. If Miami has any shot at the big dance, they would need to win their last three games. In addition to that, the Canes need at least one victory in the ACC Tournament to have some consideration.

Miami is capable of winning their last games of the season. It’s going to come down to focus and concentration, as well as how badly the Hurricanes want to end the season on the right now.

“I just want to win,” Collins said. “I really just want to win.”

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.