Miami overcomes 18-point deficit to defeat Purdue in ACC/Big 10 Challenge

Redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty scores in the final minutes of Miami's 58-54 comeback victory over Purdue in the Watsco Center on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.
Redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty scores in the final minutes of Miami's 58-54 comeback victory over Purdue in the Watsco Center on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Photo credit: Twitter, @CanesHoops

The University of Miami men’s basketball team scored 44 second-half points to comeback and defeat the Purdue Boilermakers, 58-54, Tuesday evening at the Watsco Center.

Despite struggling to score in the first half without Preseason First-Team All-ACC player Chris Lykes, who missed the game due to injury, Miami’s huge second half helped the team erase an 18-point halftime deficit.

“That was the tale of two halves,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said after the game. “The first half offensively we were totally out of sync. In the second half, we did a much better job sharing the ball, finding the open man, and getting some good looks.”

Miami (3-0) was led by redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty, who scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the second half.

“Kameron McGusty I thought really struggled in the first half offensively; took some ill-advised shots,” Larrañaga said. “I really got on him in a timeout and in then in the second half he was much more of a leader and much more under controller and making good decisions and it’s a huge difference when you play like that.”

The Canes struggled in the first half, shooting only 5-of-22 from the field and 0-of-10 shooting from three-point range. Miami’s defense also struggled in the first half, allowing Purdue (3-2) to open the game on a 15-1 run and close the half on another 17-4 run to take a 32-14 led at halftime.

“I was having a coaches meeting [during halftime] but I think our two seniors Chris Lykes and Sam Waardenburg had some very strong words of encouragement to the team to pull together,” Larrañaga said. “I think the players, their teammates responded to that kind of encouragement.”

Coming out of halftime the Canes were able to use an early 9-0 run to cut the lead to 32-23 before the Boilermakers used a run of their own to push the lead back to 17 with 13:12 to play.

But Miami responded with two runs to end the game. First, a 14-1 which cut Purdue’s led to five with only six minutes left to play. Then Miami went on another 13-1 to pull ahead, 55-51 with only 43 seconds left to play.

“We got on each other, we got in the locker room we challenged each other, and the coaches challenged us, and we came out in the second half,” McGusty said. “We knew the defense, if we continued to play hard on defense it would translate to the offense as long as we kept sharing the ball and trusting each other.”

Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong also scored in double figures for the Canes with 11 points. Sophomore guard Harlond Beverly started the game in place of Lykes and finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

Purdue was led by freshman center Zach Edey, who scored 15 points, junior guard Eric Hunter, who scored 11 points, and forward Gillis Mason, who also added nine points.

The Hurricane’s next game will be at home on Sunday, Dec.12 at noon versus the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.