Through five games, it seems the Hurricanes have a propensity for digging themselves into holes. Twice this season Miami has had to overcome significant deficits to pull out a win.
The Canes erased a 12-point first-half deficit against Texas Southern and came back to beat Georgia Southern after falling down nine points late in the first half.
Miami tried to perform another Houdini act Thursday night at the BankUnited Center, when the UCF Knights led the Canes by 11 early in the second half. Only this time UM’s luck would run out as the visitors downed the Hurricanes 63-58.
“I didn’t think we were focused at all to start the game – taking bad shots, not sharing the ball, not defending and basically not executing the game plan at all,” UM coach Jim Larranaga said.
The first half was forgettable: The Hurricanes (3-2) went 1-for-10 from long range and shot 34.5 percent from the field with just one free throw attempt. Miami entered halftime with its lowest points total of the season and a seven-point deficit to boot.
“In the second half, we made an adjustment, took James Kelly out and went with four guards seeing if we could get the guards to at least share it with each other, because sometimes that works,” Larranaga said. “And it did for a while, but we don’t have enough guards – we only have four – so they ran out of a little bit of gas and we were fighting our way back the whole time.”
UM trailed the entire second half, but still had a chance to pull out a win when Rion Brown grabbed a steal and subsequent layup that brought the Canes within one. But Miami’s erratic and sloppy play, which had plagued the Hurricanes all night, became a factor on the final possession.
“When we were pressing at the end we got a quick turnover and a quick basket got us energized,” Larranga said. “But on the most important press we didn’t get matched up correctly, didn’t execute the press and ended up giving them a dunk instead of either a turnover or foul and making them shoot two free throws.”
Senior guard Garrius Adams had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points with a team-high eight rebounds.
“I think I just was more aggressive going to the basket,” he said. “I finally was listening to my coaches. They were saying, ‘Just try to get into the paint, try to make something happen.’”
The Hurricanes could use more performances like Adams’ as they enter an extended road trip, playing in the 2013 Wooden Legacy tournament in Anaheim, Calif. Their first opponent is George Washington at 2 p.m. Thursday.
After the tournament, Miami will play at Nebraska before returning home Dec. 8 to start ACC play against Virginia Tech. The long road trip could give the Canes a chance to build chemistry.
“We all got to get on the same mindset, and you can tell there [are] plays out there where we’re not all thinking alike and that’s the difference in the game, because when we’re all on the same page we play great,” Brown said. “So I think for us it’s just get on the road, maybe it’ll do us good, get away from it for a little while, do some team bonding.”