Miami cruises past Princeton with ease in HoopHall Miami Invitational
MIAMI (AP) — The first thing that Miami coach Jim Larranaga noticed on the postgame stat sheet was 3-point shooting, and even he was a little surprised by the numbers.
Safe to say, he was pleased.
DJ Vasiljevic scored 20 points, Bruce Brown Jr. added 17 and No. 10 Miami had little trouble on the way to topping Princeton 80-52 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Saturday night.
Miami (7-0) shot 14 for 25 from 3-point range. The Hurricanes’ record for 3s in a game is 15, and the 14 makes were their most in nearly three years.
“We have great guards on this team and the bigs are playing tremendous,” Brown said. “So I think as a collective group, we’re a hard team to stop.”
Vasiljevic and Brown were highly efficient, shooting a combined 13 for 17 from the field and 9 for 12 from 3-point range. Lonnie Walker IV had a season-high 12 points for Miami, Anthony Lawrence added 10 rebounds for the Hurricanes, Brown had eight rebounds and Ja’Quan Newton had five assists against no turnovers.
“Their help defense is very good,” Larranaga said, speaking of Princeton. “That requires you then to find the open man and shoot a 3. And Bruce Brown and DJ Vasiljevic were on fire from 3-point range.”
It wasn’t just from long range — Miami outscored Princeton 30-12 in the paint.
Amir Bell scored 13 for Princeton (2-5), which got 11 points apiece from Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens. Sebastian Much missed all 10 of his shots, nine of those from 3-point range.
Princeton led 16-14 midway through the first half, and that was its final hurrah.
Miami closed the half on a 24-4 run to take a 38-20 lead, a spurt that included 13 unanswered points, 11 points from Brown in less than 5 minutes and forcing Princeton into 10 consecutive missed shots.
“We were feeling good for about 10 minutes,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “And they are really good. They make shots, they do a lot of things well. Brown killed us.”
The Tigers got within 14 early in the second half, but Miami never ceded control. And if there was any doubt, Miami went on a 10-0 run capped by an NBA-range 3-pointer from Vasiljevic for a 70-44 lead with 5 minutes remaining.
It was the second game of the day in Miami, with No. 2 Kansas topping Syracuse 76-60 in the early contest. There were several thousand more fans in the stands for that game than there was for the Hurricanes game, for one big reason — the Miami-Princeton basketball game started around the exact same time as the Miami-Clemson game for the Atlantic Coast Conference football title.
Princeton: Tigers assistant coach Kerry Kittles, the former Villanova star, had some big nights at AmericanAirlines Arena during his NBA career. He scored 27 for New Jersey against the Heat in 2001, and 24 at Miami in 2000. … Princeton started 3 for 4 from the field, then immediately followed that with a 3-for-18 stretch.
Miami: The Hurricanes haven’t faced more than a seven-point deficit in the first seven games. They trailed for 3:46 in the early going Saturday, and have trailed for a total of 25 minutes — out of 280 played this season. … Miami improved to 4-2 all-time in the current Heat home arena. Both the Hurricanes and the Heat used to call now-demolished Miami Arena home in the 1990s.
These teams are going to log some serious air miles in December. Combined, the Hurricanes and Tigers will play 13 of their 15 games this month away from their home courts. Both will play at George Washington this month, and Miami and Princeton could face off again on Christmas Day — they’re on opposite sides of the bracket at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
Princeton: Visits George Washington on Wednesday, the programs’ first meeting since 2009.
Miami: Hosts Boston University on Tuesday, the Hurricanes’ only true home game in December.