Miami Hurricanes Beat Western Carolina 92-43 in Season Opener

The Miami Hurricanes overcome slow start, to crush Western Carolina 92-43 in the season opener. Miami led 41-18 at the half and five players finished in double figures in the win.

The Hurricanes started slowly. It took them two minutes to score and another 26 seconds for their first field goal. They held the Catamounts scoreless for the first four and a half minutes, but struggled offensively, as they led 7-0 before Western Carolina scored its first points.

The Hurricanes finally found their rhythm offensively, with five players finishing in double figures. The surprise leading scorer was Sophomore Center Ebuka Izundu who averaged 2.3 points per game as a freshman. He scored 14 points in 13 minutes. Izundu had double figures only once in last season and scored just 32 points all year.

Izundu did all of his damage in the second half after sitting all but 30 seconds of the first half. The Hurricanes center was charged with two fouls 30 seconds into the game.

Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, and Freshman Forward Dewan Huell finished with 13 and freshman guard Dejan Vasiljevic added 11. Getting off to a double-digit lead early allowed Jim Larranaga to get minutes for everyone and not have to play his starters extensive minutes.

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Miami struggled offensively for large stretches of the first half. They had first half scoreless droughts of 2:29 and 2:12. The Hurricanes shot 42.9 percent in the first half, making just 14-33 from the floor.

The Miami defense made the difference in the opening 20 minutes. Western Carolina shot just 8-35 from the floor, including 2-15 on threes.

The Hurricanes led 41-18 at halftime, led by Murphy’s 11 points and six rebounds. Davon Reed had an exceptional first half. The Senior leader finished with eight points, four rebounds and made two of his three three-point attempts.

One of the keys to Miami building a 23 point lead at the half was getting Western Carolina in foul trouble. Three Catamounts finished the first half with at least three fouls.

Elijah Pughsley had four fouls and Devin Peterson and Charlendez Brooks both had three at the break. Brooks played only three minutes in the first half. Deriece Price and Onno Steger led the Catamounts with ten points each.

The Hurricanes offense was efficient all night. They finished with seven assists on 14 made field goals in the first half and 15 on 31 for the game.

Larranaga and Murphy both stressed the importance of the team effort in the season opener.

“Right from the start we showed a lot of focus, intensity, teamwork, helping each other defensively,” Larranaga said. “At the offensive end, we shared the ball.” Murphy added “Defensively we were great and we shared the ball…That’s the way basketball should be played.”

Next Game:  At North Florida, Wednesday 6pm. Miami travels to Jacksonville for the first time Wednesday night, in the Ospreys and ‘Canes fourth all-time meeting. Miami dominated the Ospreys in three previous meetings, winning by an average of 29.3 PPG.

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