Sixth-year senior guard Charlie Moore came to Miami determined to make an immediate impact.
After averaging hardly eight points through the Hurricanes’ first three games, the DePaul transfer stepped up to score a team-high 20 points on 5-for-7 3-point shooting and added four assists to guide Miami past Florida A&M 86-59 on Sunday at the Watsco Center.
“He really quarterbacked the team,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “He scored the ball, he passed the ball and really got everybody involved.”
Larrañaga said he’d hoped Moore’s breakout outing was near. The Hurricanes’ 11th-year head coach sent Moore footage of his 3-point shooting proficiency at DePaul last season, a 34.6% clip, earlier in the week.
Moore shot 1-of-11 from 3-point territory prior to UM’s home game against Florida A&M (1-2), but opened with two deep threes in the first half to push Miami (3-1) to a seven-point lead seven minutes through.
“Just seeing myself knocking down shots, you know, doing what I do,” Moore said on the video’s importance for his shooting confidence. “Also, [it was] just my teammates that got me involved. The coaches have the confidence in me as well to keep shooting the ball … I’m just looking forward to continue doing what I did tonight and to help the team win.”
Guards Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong teamed up to produce 33 points, each playing 26 minutes or more. The Hurricanes out-rebounded the Rattlers 49-33 and ignited a 10-2 run minutes after halftime, but also faced a 12-3 run with 9:46 left.
“We were very worried coming into this game because of how well Florida A&M had played on the road at Kansas State, where they lead for a majority of the first half and were within two points late in the second half,” Larrañaga said. “And, MJ Randolph had dominated the game offensively with 27 points, a number of assists in getting everybody involved.”
Florida A&M relied on 18 second-half points from forward D.J. Jones and guard M.J. Randolph’s nine to pull within 15 points, after UM led by 25 at the 14-minute mark.
But George Mason transfer guard Jordan Miller’s scoring provided the Hurricanes with added momentum, after a two-point total at Florida Atlantic Tuesday. Miller hit a three and executed a backdoor cut for a slam dunk on a 5-0 burst and Miami’s 72-49 advantage, uplifting the Hurricanes faithful.
“I think I took for granted, you know, how hard it would be to transfer and get used to a new system,” Miller said. “It definitely surprised me, but I just try to maintain positivity and stay in the gym, and knowing as long as we get the win, regardless of how I do, I know I can provide defense. And if that means I don’t score and we win, I’m fine with that.”
Rattlers guard Jalen Speer nailed one final three for Florida A&M’s final score. The team’s second-leading scorer registered two 3-point shots in each half, posing an issue for UM’s perimeter defense down the stretch.
The Hurricanes’ reserves, however, supported Moore, Wong and McGusty, adding 24 points over Florida A&M’s seven.
“The whole key is you have to have a complete team, guys who can contribute in some way. Offensively, scoring points, getting assists, making threes, making free throws, and then defensively, guarding their man or helping or defensive rebounding. There’s all different ways to help the team, and I think our bench did that.”
With its largest margin of victory on the season completed, Miami travels to Kissimmee, Florida, for the ESPN Events Invitational and a first-round matchup against Dayton of the Atlantic 10 Conference on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.
“Onto the next. That’s the mindset that we have,” Miller said. “It was a good win tonight, it gives us a lot of confidence going into this [tournament] but I think we’re on a mission this year, and we’re not going to stop until we reach our goals. We’re going to do whatever it takes, so I think we’re ready.”