Miami basketball: Hurricanes carve up No. 12 Minnesota’s defense for statement win

All Wednesday evening, Dewan Huell stood side by side with Reggie Lynch. Huell has been Miami basketball’s most productive player early this season, mostly by feasting on overmatched and undersized mid-major frontcourts. Lynch would be the forward’s first real test — the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year who anchored the nation’s best shot-blocking defense a season ago. With the redshirt senior protecting the rim, Minnesota had the second-best defensive efficiency in the Big 10 and should have the conference’s top defense this winter.

At least 16 times Wednesday in Minneapolis, however, the Hurricanes sent Huell diving to the rim, typically after setting a screen on Lynch. About a third of those times, the sophomore flushed home an easy dunk. The Golden Gophers, with their imposing center, should have provided a stiff challenge for Miami’s inconsistent offense. Instead, the No. 10 Hurricanes dismantled No. 12 Minnesota for an 86-81 win in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

Defense hasn’t been a question mark for Miami this season. The Hurricanes (6-0) entered Wednesday with the nation’s most efficient defense, albeit against most unexceptional competition. But the offense, against the same nondescript opponents, was sometimes an adventure. La Salle, most notably, held Miami to 57, including a 19-point half.

Huell was the centerpiece for Miami’s shocking offensive outburst Wednesday with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting at Williams Arena, but the Hurricanes’ loaded backcourt was the catalyst. Shooting guard Bruce Brown scored 16 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and nailed a pair of 3-pointers. Guard Ja’Quan Newton scored 12 points and dished out 9 assists with only 1 turnover. Guards Dejan Vasiljevic and Chris Lykes added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Hurricanes shot better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range, and managed to score 1.154 points per possession despite attempting only 11 free throws.

Four days earlier, the No. 12 Golden Gophers proved their defense was vulnerable. Minnesota (7-1) had the luxury of playing the final eight minutes of a win against No. 25 Alabama with a 5-on-3 advantage, yet the Crimson Tide, led by a relentlessly penetrating point guard Collin Sexton, outscored the Golden Gophers while playing shorthanded.

The recipe for an upset win in Minnesota was set. Get guards into the paint and Lynch has to step up away from the rim. With the newfound opening, Huell could have his way on the base line. While Lynch still piled up 7 blocks, he pulled them all off against penetrating guards. Huell didn’t have any issues.

And for the last 6:40, Miami spread out Minnesota as much as possible. The Hurricanes played the final stretch of the game with four guards surrounding Huell and went even smaller for the last 3:10, going with four players 6-foot-5 or shorter, including the 5-7 Lykes.

The Hurricanes poured in 15 points during those last seven minutes for their first signature win of this young season.

The post Miami basketball: Hurricanes carve up No. 12 Minnesota’s defense for statement win appeared first on Diehards.

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