CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The Miami basketball program hasn’t had nearly the success that the football program has had in its history, but a win over one of college basketball’s best programs ranks as one of the program’s highlights.
Fans stormed the court following Miami's win.
Trey McKinney-Jones scored 18 points including five 3-pointers to help lead Miami to a 67-59 win over No. 13 Michigan State Wednesday as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
As some of the 5,971 in attendance stormed the court to celebrate the victory, Miami head coach Jim Larranaga thought to himself:
“This is what college basketball is all about. In fact what I was really thinking was this is what being a college student is all about--to get involved. You’re greatest memories don’t come in the classroom. It comes at events like this that you’ll remember years down the road. You’re going to forget your Chemistry test and your English paper, but you’re not going to forget a night like this when you run on the court afterwards, you’re on television, and everybody is thrilled with what’s going on. It’s going to be the buzz tomorrow in all the classrooms.”
The crowd, which was nearly double their season average coming into the game, provided a boost throughout the game led by a large student crowd.
“Kudos to our fans, I think they really helped us come out on top,” said Reggie Johnson, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds. “They was rocking. That’s what we feel when we go on the road to play Duke and North Carolina. The home-court advantage was definitely helpful.”
Durand Scott, who scored 15 points, was carried off the court by fans.
“It was kind of unexpected, but you just want to go out there and enjoy the moment,” Scott said. “The fans deserved to be out there with us so we tried to experience the excitement, adrenaline, and everything we was feeling at the same time. It was a great feeling. It was about 150 degrees in there. It was really hot in there between all of those people, but it was a great experience. It’s something that not a lot of people get to experience so we’re very grateful for that.”
Larranaga received about 50 text messages after the win and even a phone call from football head coach Al Golden during the press conference.
Shane Larkin continued his strong start to the season with 15 points.
“He must have heard me talking about him,” Larranaga joked. “Is this being aired? Maybe he’s watching.”
It was an important win for Miami (4-1) over a quality opponent that helps ease the pain of a 12-point loss to Florida Gulf Coast earlier this season.
The Hurricanes were out-rebounded 37-28, but knocked down 9 of 16 from behind the 3-point arc, hit 16 of 18 free throws, and had just nine turnovers.
Defensively, Miami held Michigan State to 40.7 percent (24 of 59) shooting and held the Spartans without a field goal in a five-minute stretch in the second half.
“I thought for the first time maybe since I’ve been here that our defense was at the right level of execution,” Larranaga said.
Michigan State (5-2) was led by Keith Appling’s 15 points. Gary Harris returned to the lineup after missing two games with a shoulder injury and added 12.
The Spartans led 31-27 at halftime, but Miami began the second half on a 14-2 run to take a 41-33 lead and never looked back.
“I think it goes back to attitude,” Larranga said. “Our attitude needed to be much more aggressive, much more positive, much more of a fighter’s mentality. We took a few punches from Michigan State, we needed to fight back and we did.”
Shane Larkin, who finished with 15 points, knocked down a 3 at the top of the key to open the half. After the teams traded layups, Larkin made a layup and knocked down a 10-footer from the baseline to bring the crowd to its feet. Johnson followed with a layup and McKinney-Jones hit his third 3-pointer to cap the run.
McKinney-Jones continued his hot shooting from the perimeter as his fifth 3 of the game gave the Hurricanes a 55-45 lead with seven minutes left.
The Spartans struggled to get into a rhythm offensively, but Keith Appling was able to create shots for himself and others to keep his team in the game. After dishing a pass to Branden Dawson for a layup, Appling converted one of his own to cut the deficit to 57-49 with 4:22 left.
Miami was able to hold off Michigan State down the stretch by knocking down their final 10 free throws.
Miami led 11-9 following a put-back by Scott, who scored nine in a row for Miami after Kenny Kadji scored the first basket for the Hurricanes.
“He had nine of the 11 points and if not, we’re probably down 10-2,” Larranaga said. “Having a guy like that, he’s so tough. He’s our energy guy. He’s our leader in terms of intensity, energy, and emotion.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by McKinney-Jones gave Miami a 17-14 lead with 8:53 left in the first half.
Michigan State received good news before the game as Harris, the team’s second-leading scorer, made his return after missing two games with a shoulder injury. Harris made his presence felt as he came off the bench and drilled a 3 from the left wing to give the Spartans a 28-23 edge, their largest lead of the first half.
After a strong start, Scott didn’t strike again until 2:27 left when he made a tough layup in transition to pull Miami within 28-27.
Harris also scored a basket to beat the halftime buzzer as Michigan State led 31-27 at the break. Scott led all scorers at halftime with 11 points.
Miami will travel to Massachusetts Saturday to take on the Minutemen.
“This is not the highlight of our season--to beat Michigan State,” Johnson said. “It was a heck of a game, both teams fought hard, but we have to continue to get better and get ready to play Saturday.”
Notes: Moments before the game UM announced that SG Bishop Daniels is on a leave of absence to focus on academics. There is no timetable for his return. Daniels is averaging 5.0 points in three games. … Miami is 2-4 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. … Michigan State came into the game with 20 turnovers in each of their last two games. The Spartans had 12 against Miami. … Football standout Duke Johnson was in attendance and congratulated by the PA announcer for winning ACC Rookie of the Year.
SCORING: Larkin 5-10 2-2 15, Scott 6-10 3-4 15, McKinney-Jones 5-8 3-4 18, Kadji 2-6 0-0 4, Johnson 2-5 6-6 10, Brown 1-3 2-2 5, Jekiri 0-0 0-0 0, Gamble 0-2 0-0 0. Team 21-44 16-18 67.
3-PT: McKinney-Jones 5-7, Larkin 3-4, Brown 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Kadji 0-2. Team 9-16.
REBOUND HIGH: Johnson 11.
ASSIST HIGH: Larkin, Scott 2.
Michigan State 31-28 = 59
Miami 27-40 = 67