KISSIMMEE, FL. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team led No. 10/9 Alabama for nearly 17 first-half minutes, but could not slow down the reigning SEC champion in the second session of a 96-64 setback to conclude the ESPN Events Invitational.
Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty logged a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double for Miami (4-3) at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
“I thought the starters played well for 15 minutes, but as soon as we went to our bench, we lost our lead and our composure,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “The second half, we just couldn’t do anything right. Once Alabama started rolling, we couldn’t stop them.”
Miami used a 13-2 run, including scoring eight straight points, midway through the first half to take a nine-point lead, 27-18, with 6:22 on the clock. The burst included six points by McGusty, two of them after a technical foul on Alabama (6-1) head coach Nate Oats.
The Crimson Tide, however, closed the half on a 15-3 run to take a three-point edge, 33-30, into the locker room. Eight of those points came consecutively in the final 2:13, with junior guard Jahvon Quinerly’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer breaking a would-be tie at the intermission.
The Hurricanes led for 16:47 of the opening 20 minutes, buoyed by McGusty’s 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Alabama started the second half on a 7-0 run in the first 1:25, making it a 15-0 surge in 3:38, dating back before the intermission. That upped the Crimson Tide’s lead to 10 points, 40-30.
The Hurricanes quickly pulled back within six, but Alabama controlled play for the rest of the game, en route to victory in the tournament’s fifth-place matchup.
“They were just faster than us,” Larrañaga said of the Crimson Tide’s second-half showing. “They beat us down the floor, they drove the ball to the basket, they got layups and got open threes. We couldn’t stop the dribble penetration and we couldn’t contest the threes well enough to make them miss.”
McGusty’s 21 points came on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 2-of-4 mark from deep, to go along with a 3-of-4 mark at the line. His 10 rebounds led all players and gave him a double-double for the second consecutive outing.
Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong registered 14 points, including Miami’s first six of the second half. He shot 4-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-6 at the line. Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Alabama senior guard Keon Ellis paced all players with 22 points, finishing 8-of-11 from the floor, 5-of-6 from deep and 1-of-1 at the line. Junior guard Jaden Shackelford scored 15 points, while redshirt sophomore forward Juwan Gary posted 13.
Freshman guard JD Davison also scored 13 points, adding a game-high 10 assists—the most by any player through Miami’s seven outings this season—and six rebounds.
Although the Hurricanes shot a strong 46.0 percent (23-of-50) from the field, they allowed the Crimson Tide to shoot 53.6 percent (37-of-69) overall and 53.3 percent (16-of-30) from 3-point range. In addition, Alabama notched a 42-23 edge on the glass and a 15-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“We have to play a whole lot better because we’ve got a very tough schedule coming up,” Larrañaga said. “We already have played a tough schedule. That was a very, very disappointing performance.”
Up next for Miami is a visit to the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., where it faces Penn State Wednesday at 9:15 p.m., live on ESPNU in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Presented by Continental Tire.