Miami rallies past Middle Tennessee, finishes third at Diamond Head Classic
HONOLULU (AP) — A little rest went a long way for No. 15 Miami.
Dewan Huell scored 21 points, Bruce Brown Jr. had a season-high 20 and the Hurricanes beat Middle Tennessee 84-81 in the Diamond Head Classic on Monday night.
DJ Vasiljevic added 13 points, helping Miami rebound from its first loss of the season to New Mexico State in Saturday’s semifinals. It finished third in the eight-team tournament.
The 6-foot-11 Huell was 7 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the line in Miami’s third game in four days. The sophomore forward was named to the all-tournament team.
Miami shot 60 percent (30 of 50) from the field after shooting a season-worst 34 percent in the loss to the Aggies.
“It wasn’t so much preparation for Middle Tennessee, as it was rest,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said.
“We didn’t do our practice. I think the mistake that I made playing (twice) in 24 hours, I didn’t rest the guys. We actually went and practiced because we knew New Mexico State did a lot of things that we needed to prepare for and that was bad preparation, (but) we should have just let our guys execute the fundamentals the way we play and that was my mistake. I didn’t want to make that same mistake again.”
Nick King led Middle Tennessee (8-4) with 28 points. Antwain Johnson and Brandon Walters had 12 points apiece.
“I thought we played really well offensively, but the way the game is being called you have to have rim protectors and we don’t have that, especially after Brandon Walters fouled out. That made it really tough against a big team like Miami,” Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said.
The Blue Raiders led by as many as 13 in the first half, but the Hurricanes went ahead to stay on a straightaway 3-pointer by Anthony Lawrence II with 3:19 left in the game.
Brown scored 14 points in the second half. He was 8 for 16 from the field on the night and also had six rebounds and three assists.
Huell reflected back to last season for some extra motivation.
“Last year, at around this same time, we lost two games back to back in a tournament and we knew how that felt and we did not want the same results here going into ACC play,” Huell said.
There were eight ties and nine lead changes in the first meeting between the teams.
Middle Tennessee: It was the sixth time this season that the Blue Raiders faced an opponent that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. It posted wins over Florida Gulf Coast (twice), Vanderbilt and Princeton, but lost to Southern California.
Miami: The Hurricanes entered with the second-best mark nationally in both scoring defense (57 points per game) and opponent field-goal percentage (35.3 percent), as well as the third-best mark in opponent 3-point shooting (26.6 percent). The Blue Raiders shot 51.9 percent from the field and 46.7 from 3-point range.
Miami freshman Lonnie Walker IV went down late in the first half with an apparent left knee injury. Walker was tended to by an athletic trainer on the court and walked off under his own power. The guard remained in uniform on the bench in the second half, but did not return to the court.
Middle Tennessee: Takes on UAB on Saturday before beginning Conference USA play at FIU on Jan. 4.
Miami: Visits Pittsburgh on Saturday.
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