CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team led Virginia by 10 points early in the second half, but could not hold on, dropping a 74-71 decision Saturday evening at the Watsco Center.
Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty scored a team-high 20 points for Miami (19-8, 11-5 ACC), which had its three-game winning streak come to an end in its second setback of the season versus the Cavaliers.
“Well, I thought we played a terrific first half. We scored 38 points in the first half and had an eight-point lead,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “But the first seven minutes of the second half were just a disaster for us. They outscored us 19-6 and never looked back.”
The Hurricanes made their first five shots and raced out to a 12-4 lead through three minutes. Virginia (17-10, 11-6 ACC) quickly answered with a 14-6 surge—it made five straight field goals and a pair of free throws—to level the score at 18 with 13 minutes left in the frame.
The Cavaliers, buoyed by 9-of-10 shooting from the line, eventually took their first lead, 28-25, on a three-point play with 6:17 on the clock. Miami, though, upped its lead back to eight, 38-30, by the time the halftime buzzer sounded, closing the session on a 13-2 run. The Hurricanes held Virginia scoreless for the final 5:06 of the half and scored nine straight points.
Miami posted a 20-10 margin in paint points, a 13-0 advantage in fast-break points and a 6-0 edge in points off turnovers through 20 minutes. It also limited the Cavaliers to 37.0 percent (10-of-27) shooting, including a 12.5 percent clip (1-of-8) from deep.
A steal and fast-break layup by McGusty to open the second half gave the Hurricanes a game-best 10-point lead, 40-30, with 19:36 to play. The Cavaliers then scored eight consecutive points in 92 seconds. They eventually upped their run to 23-4, taking a 53-44 lead with 12:13 left after making eight straight field goals.
Miami, though, responded with seven points of its own to cut its deficit to two, 53-51, with 9:08 to go. The Hurricanes pulled within two twice more, but could not get any closer, despite scoring 14 of the final 23 points.
“I thought Kihei Clark actually just took over the game,” Larrañaga said of Virginia’s finish. “[He was] making threes, making good decisions and making free throws. When he’s playing that well, you have to have someone step up and try to shut him down.”
McGusty’s 20 points came on 6-of-13 field-goal shooting, including a 3-of-5 mark from deep, and a perfect 6-of-6 ledger at the line. The Katy, Texas, native added four assists and a game-best four steals, the latter one shy of his career high.
Fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller totaled 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, adding six rebounds. Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore, who battled foul trouble from start to finish, scored 14 points and dished out a co-team-high four assists. Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong added 10 points and a co-team-best seven rebounds.
Senior forward Jayden Gardner led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting for the Cavaliers. He added seven rebounds, two assists and a game-high three blocks.
Senior guard Kihei Clark recorded 17 points, including 14 in the second half, to go along with five assists. Redshirt sophomore forward Kadin Shedrick totaled 13 points and a game-best 13 rebounds, the latter the top mark by a Miami opponent all season. Sophomore guard Reece Beekman led all players with seven assists.
Virginia finished the night shooting 49.0 percent (25-of-51) from the floor after posting a blistering 62.5 percent ledger (15-of-24) in the second half alone. Miami, meanwhile, shot 41.8 percent overall (28-of-67) after logging a 38.9 percent mark (14-of-36) after the break.
After the first game between the two teams included zero free throws in the first 36 minutes, both teams excelled at the stripe Saturday. The Cavaliers went 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) and the Hurricanes went 9-of-9, its first time making nine-plus free throws without a miss since March 2, 2016.
Miami ended the night with a 15-1 edge in fast-break points and a 42-24 cushion in paint points, but Virginia registered a 21-6 advantage in bench points.
Up next for the Hurricanes is a trip to Pittsburgh, where they play Tuesday at 8 p.m. against Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center, live on ACC Network.
Alex Schwartz – Miami Hurricanes Athletics contributed to this game recap