Sheldon McClellan, defense help Miami take care of Florida
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- The sellout crowd was roaring less than a minute into the game when Miami's Davon Reed jumped to block Florida's first shot, sending the message points wouldn't come easy for the Gators.
"That kind of set the tone," Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said.
No. 17 Miami overcame an off night offensively with scrappy defense and beat rival Florida 66-55 Tuesday.
Sheldon McClellan scored 24 points, but the rest of the Hurricanes shot only 33 percent. They controlled the game anyway, leading for the final 36 minutes.
"I was really impressed with Miami defensively," Florida coach Mike White said.
The Hurricanes held the Gators to 39 percent shooting, including 1 for 12 from 3-point range. Miami won despite shooting a season-low 39 percent overall.
The Hurricanes (8-1) earned their third consecutive victory since losing at home to Northeastern. The Gators (6-2) lost to their instate rivals for the second consecutive year.
The teams, which have played each other only six times since 1991, have no more games scheduled in the series.
Angel Rodriguez scored 17 points and had three of the Hurricanes' seven steals. He said Larranaga has been lobbying for better defense in practice.
"Coach has been pretty hard on us, because he knows we can do a lot better," Rodriguez said. "The last two games we've made a lot of improvement, especially guarding the 3-point line."
Said Larranaga: "The only way to make them miss is to get in their grill."
Tonye Jekiri, Miami's leading rebounder, hurt his knee and went to the locker room before halftime for treatment. He missed eight minutes before returning early in the second half, and finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Miami had a 42-31 edge on the boards.
The crowd of 7,972 included a large contingent of Florida fans, but they didn't have many baskets to cheer about. John Egbunu scored 14 for the Gators, who had two point guards foul out and never found their shooting touch.
After KeVaughn Allen scored with 5:51 left to cut Miami's lead to 56-46, Florida didn't make another basket until only 1:38 remained. The Gators' point total was a season low.
"We're searching for an offensive identity," White said. "For whatever reason our guards are struggling to find their range. They're better shooters than this."
Both teams tried to make up for their offensive deficiencies with hustle. One sequence included a blocked shot by Miami and a prolonged scramble for the ball before the Hurricanes finally wrestled it away to start a fast break that ended with a layup by Reed.
Rodriguez said he was wrong to chew out freshman teammate Ebuka Izundu in the first half.
"I didn't own up to it until Coach opened my eyes," Rodriguez said. "I had to apologize to Coach and to Ebuka twice, and I will do it again when I get back to the locker room."
Said Larranaga: "He just needed to calm down a little bit."
Miami reserve guard Anthony Lawrence sat out with flu-like symptoms.
Miami: New Hurricanes football coach Mark Richt drew a big ovation when he was introduced midway through the first half. "I came here tonight to support coach Larranaga and the basketball team," Richt, a Miami alum, told the crowd. "I just also wanted to say I'm so thankful to be back home."
Florida: Starting guard Kasey Hill shot 1 for 7, committed three turnovers and fouled out.
The Hurricanes host the College of Charleston on Dec. 19.
Florida visits No. 1 Michigan State on Saturday. "We're going to have to play a lot better to have a chance," White said.