CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)Kameron McGusty’s late scoring surge helped Miami overcome a scare from an opponent that had lost its first five games by an average of 29 points.
McGusty scored 21 points as the Hurricanes defeated Alabama A&M 88-74 Saturday afternoon.
Miami clung to a five-point lead with 3:50 remaining before McGusty scored seven points in a 10-0 run. The guard’s 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining capped the spurt for an 85-70 advantage.
“All game, coaches have been preaching getting into the paint and kicking it out and finding open people,” said McGusty, who shot 9 of 15 from the field. “It was good to see the ball moving. That’s what happens when you move the ball and it’s always good to have your teammates trust you to take those types of big shots.”
Dejan Vasiljevic scored 17 points, including 5 of 6 on 3-pointers, and Chris Lykes finished with 13 points for Miami (6-3). Harlond Beverly and Sam Waardenburg finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
“Honestly, I don’t think we panicked at all,” McGusty said. “These are the type of situations that we work on in practice. We were well-prepared for that last two-three minute stretch.”
Miami coach Jim Larranaga missed the game because of back spasms he began experiencing shortly after the team’s shootaround Saturday morning. Assistant Chris Caputo coached the Hurricanes against the Bulldogs.
“I like to give Alabama A&M some credit, they played very, very well,” Caputo said. “Some of it has to do with us but give them credit. They came with great confidence offensively.”
Cameron Alford’s layup with 3:50 remaining got the Bulldogs (2-6) to within the five-point deficit before Miami’s late run secured the win.
Alabama A&M, which averaged 37% from the field before Saturday, shot 51% against Miami. Jalen Johnson scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Bulldogs.
“I’m real proud of our guys and how hard they fought, especially against an ACC opponent,” Bulldogs coach Dylan Howard. “McGusty just took over the game, especially on the scoring end.”
Rodney Miller’s two free throws with 28 seconds remaining gave the Hurricanes their second double-digit lead of the first half at 44-33. Johnson’s dunk with five seconds left got Alabama A&M within 44-35 at halftime.
INACTIVITY NOT THE ONLY FACTOR
The Hurricanes had played one game in the past 18 days. Caputo doesn’t believe the team’s inactivity was the notable factor in the close call against Alabama A&M.
“There is probably something there but it’s how you handle failure,” Caputo said. “I don’t think that was the reason per se, but we’ve got to learn to do that – a little more emotional maturity as it relates to what we’re trying to do, not necessarily the score of the game or who we’re playing.”
The Bulldogs started four freshmen against Miami. Guards Garrett Hicks and Cameron Alford scored 12 points and 10 points, respectively, while center EJ Williams had nine points and guard Cameron Tucker finished with a team-high five assists.
Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs’ nonconference schedule features three games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams. In addition to Saturday’s game against Miami, the Bulldogs lost to Clemson 87-51 on Nov. 21 and will visit Notre Dame on Dec. 29.
Miami: Reserve forward Keith Stone, a transfer from Florida, scored four points in his second game after missing the first five weeks of the season while recovering from knee surgery. Stone’s addition figures prominently now that the Hurricanes only have nine scholarship players after reserve forward Deng Gak was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs continue their road-heavy start of the season Tuesday at South Alabama. Seven of Alabama A&M’s first nine games are on the road.
Miami: The Hurricanes return to the road Tuesday, when they will face Temple in the Hall of Fame Invitational Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
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