CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Last week’s loss to St. Leo in an exhibition game didn’t count.
This one did. And Miami did what they were supposed to do.
Reggie Johnson scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Miami Hurricanes as all five starters scored in double figures in an 87-79 win over Stetson in the season opener.
“We definitely wanted to come out from the other night-we came out to a slow start, played bad, but tonight we came out and really turned it up,” Johnson said. “It’s the start of the season. We know not everything is going to be perfect. We still have to work.”
“It’s much better to win and then go over the mistakes,” Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said.
Only seven players for Miami saw more than a minute of action as the team played eight players.
“I told the team afterwards it’s not that I’m not confident in the other guys, it’s just that we need for our upperclassmen right now to just take responsibility,” Larranaga said. “I’ve got to leave them out of there.”
Miami, which is coming off a 20-13 season, has high expectations with six seniors returning, was without leading scorer Durand Scott who served his third game of a six-game suspension handed out by the NCAA. Scott will be eligible to return Nov. 24 against Detroit.
“When Durand comes back, Durand is going to be Durand,” Johnson said. “Durand can get to the hole, his jump shot is 10 times better than last year so when Durand comes back it’s going to be a bonafide team.”
Miami got off to a slow start, but shot 53 percent from the floor with 19 assists and 11 turnovers.
Stetson, which went 9-20 last season, hung with Miami throughout after leading for most of the first half. Adam Pegg led the Hatters with 22 points including four of Stetson’s 13 3-pointers.
“We’re not supposed to beat Miami, but we can beat Miami,” Stetson coach Casey Alexander said. “I think our guys approached the game that way. Nobody expects us to win the ACC, but we only have to play them once and that’s the only time we have to beat them.”
After the game was tied at halftime at 34-all. Miami began to pull away in the second half keyed by Larkin, who had a pair of baskets and an assist on a 3-pointer by Kenny Kadji to give Miami a 56-45 lead with 12 minutes left.
Miami held a steady double-digit lead over the next seven minutes as Stetson was able to pull as close as seven.
Pegg hit a 3-pointer to pull within 74-68 with four minutes left. Moments later, Pegg drilled another 3 to cut the deficit to 74-71 with 3:04 left.
Johnson responded with a basket, Chris Perez countered with a 3-point play for Stetson, and Larkin hit two free throws for a 78-74 edge with two minutes left.
Johnson missed a 3, but Miami got the offensive rebound and he scored again and found a cutting McKinney-Jones for an 82-74 lead with under a minute left to seal the victory for the Hurricanes.
“They’re very talented of course,” Alexander said. “Their size gave us a lot of problems and all of the toughness stats--offensive rebounds, free throws taken--they kicked us by a large margin there.”
Miami out-rebounded Stetson 39-30 and went 16 for 24 from the free-throw line compared to 10 of 14 for Stetson.
Brown hit a 3-pointer for the first basket of the game before Stetson reeled off a 12-2 run as Miami missed their next shots.
Stetson led throughout most of the first half building a 29-22 lead before Miami called timeout with six minutes left in the half.
After the timeout, Miami responded with a 7-0 run as Johnson scored five points during the run to tie the game at 29.
A jumper by Johnson gave Miami their second lead of the game at 34-32, but a goaltending call on Kadji allowed Stetson to end the half tied at 34.
Daniels Makes Anticipated UM Debut
After redshirting last season due to a foot injury, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Bishop Daniels made his Miami debut.
Daniels battled through a hamstring throughout preseason practices, which caused him to miss last week’s exhibition game, but showed no ill-effects against the Hatters scoring seven points with three steals in 21 minutes.
“It was real exciting to get out there with my boys for the first time,” Daniels said.
Daniels made his presence known in the first half by drilling a 3-pointer, recording a steal, and showed his speed by dishing out an assist in 10 minutes of action.
In the second half, Daniels came off the bench to make a lay-up, get a steal, and hit another basket in a 54 second span.
Gamble Returns From Injury
Sixth-year senior Julian Gamble missed last season due to a torn ACL and scored nine points making all four of his shots with six rebounds in 18 minutes.
“It felt great just to be back healthy to play with my teammates,” Gamble said. “I’ve seen so many people grow since coach L got here until now and just having the opportunity to play under coach L and have that guidance to be able to contribute on the floor it means a lot to me.”
Gamble’s last game was on March 23, 2011, a loss at Alabama as he scored seven points and had six rebounds.
Miami will travel to Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 13 before returning home Nov. 16 against Jacksonville.
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