Tonye Jekiri’s double-double leads Miami over Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Miami passed coach Jim Larranaga’s quiz — barely.
Tonye Jekiri had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Angel Rodriguez added 12 points and eight assists, and the Hurricanes held off Syracuse 66-62 on Saturday, hitting 10 of 29 from behind the arc against the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense.
"One of the things we did last night was have the kids take a quiz about the zone," said Larranaga, who defeated SU coach Jim Boeheim for the first time in four tries. "How many shots were we going to have to make from 3? How many shots were we going to have to make from 2? How many free throws will it take?"
The Hurricanes attempted five fewer free throws than Syracuse, but the Orange converted only 8 of 19, and that was critical.
"I thought we battled as hard as we could all day," Boeheim said. "We did everything we could to win the game. You’re playing a good team, you can’t miss 11 free throws. That’s really the ballgame. We overcame two 10-point deficits each half. You go to the free throw line in those situations, you have to make those free throws."
Tied 26-all at halftime, Miami (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) started the second half with a 16-6 spurt before the Orange (14-6, 5-2) rallied late.
Syracuse moved within 60-59 on a lefty shot along the baseline by Rakeem Christmas with 52.6 seconds left.
After Manu Lecomte sank a long 3 from the top of the key with 19.9 seconds to go, Trevor Cooney answered with one of his own at 12.5 seconds to keep the Orange within a point.
Rodriguez then sank two free throws and the Hurricanes survived after Cooney missed a 3-point attempt with 4.4 seconds left.
Syracuse also committed 13 turnovers to eight for Miami.
Christmas led the Orange with 23 points and Cooney had 14 as Syracuse lost for the second time at home this season. Tyler Roberson added 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Davon Reed hit two 3-pointers during Miami’s opening spurt in the second half and finished with 11.
Miami led 60-55 after Rodriguez penetrated and found Sheldon McClellan for consecutive alley-oops and then dished to Jekiri for a layup with 2:19 to go.
"I was passive in the first half and settled for what they gave me," Rodriguez said. "Teams usually come out very strong with their defense early in the game. Eventually, they get tired, they start making little mistakes. I knew I’d have an opportunity to get into the lane and make something happen."
In the final 90 seconds, Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije hit just 2 of 4 free throws and Christmas missed two more to help Miami escape.
"You can ask a million questions," Boeheim said. "Overall, this game was one thing, that’s it, nothing else. We make some free throws, we win the game, bottom line."
Miami: Entering Saturday’s game, Sheldon McClellan had scored in double figures in 14 straight games and in 15 total games this season. He finished with seven points. … The `Canes had connected on nine or more 3-pointers in three of the previous four games.
Syracuse: Michael Gbinije finished with nine points, snapping a run of six straight double-figure scoring games, all in ACC play. .. The combined record of Syracuse’s first six ACC foes this season was 54-56 overall and 5-29 in league play. The combined record for its next eight opponents, excluding replays with Virginia Tech and Boston College, is 121-31 overall and 34-14 in the league. … Syracuse led Miami only once, 1-0.
Miami hosts Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
Syracuse is at North Carolina on Monday night.