Bruce Brown garnered national attention last season during his first year at the University of Miami. He set program records for points and field goals made as a freshman.
But the 6-foot-5 combo guard has struggled a bit to start this season, hitting just 37 percent of his shots in Miami’s first four games.
Against North Florida Nov. 25, Brown seemed like his old self again, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the No. 11 Hurricanes’ 86-65 win over the Ospreys.
“I think Bruce is playing like Clark Kent – a little conservative, has the glasses on, the suit on,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said. “At some point, hopefully soon, he’ll remove the glasses and become Superman.”
Brown shot 7-14 from the field.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive and play my game,” Brown said. “I thought I was thinking too much last game. I had to slow myself and take shots I know I can make. I had a quick easy dunk and that’s always good.”
Undefeated UM (5-0) dominated in the paint, outscoring UNF 54-22 down low.
Four other Canes scored in double figures, including guard Anthony Lawrence, who also had 14 points – a career high for him. Forward Dewan Huell added 13 points.and six rebounds.
“They really do a good job of finding each other,” North Florida coach Matt Driscoll said about Miami. “They don’t have any guys I would call pigs. They have guys that share the sugar.”
Hurricanes freshman guard Chris Lykes provided a spark off the bench, leading the second unit with 10 points and four assists in 19 minutes of play.
“Bruce Lee was 5 feet 7, Tom Cruise is 5 feet 7 – they’re pretty good at what they do,” Larrañaga said about Lykes’ height. “It’s not about height, it’s about heart. Chris has a huge heart and huge skills.”
Redshirt freshman forward Sam Waardenburg, who missed Miami’s first three games because of a back injury, also made an impact off the bench, scoring a career-high nine points and pulling down six rebounds in 16 minutes.
“He gives us another dimension in the front court,” Larrañaga said. “He’s going to have a good role and be a consistent contributor at both ends of the court.”
“It’s good to be back after the injury and take the shots I know I can take,” Waardenburg said. “On offense, I can stretch the floor out and give length for these guys to get to the rim.”
After struggling from the free throw line through their first four games, the Hurricanes hit 74 percent of their foul shots on Saturday, including 11-12 in the second half.
“I told the guys there are only 351 teams in Division I, and we were ranked No. 350 in free throw percentage,” Larrañaga said. “Our goal is to be the most improved team by February.”
The Ospreys (1-7) entered the matchup ranked No. 2 nationally in three-pointers made but hit just 8-26 from beyond the arc against the Canes.
Redshirt sophomore JT Escobar led UNF with 16 points on 6-9 shooting, including four three-pointers.
The Canes became the third team in Larrañaga’s seven years at UM to start 5-0, joining the 2014-15 and 2015-16 squads.
Miami will look to continue its undefeated start when it travels to play No. 14 Minnesota Nov. 29 as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.