Miami gets past UMass
AMHERST — When the 3-point shots weren’t falling Saturday — and that was far too often for UMass — Miami’s Reggie Johnson was right there to block or intimidate the Minutemen’s best inside scoring attempts.
Johnson, listed at 6-10 and charitably at 292 pounds, filled up the lane and the stat line to the tune of 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots, leading four Hurricanes in double figures in their 75-62 non-conference victory over UMass before 7,004 at the Mullins Center.
Durand Scott had 15 points and seven rebounds, Shane Larkin scored 14 points and Kenny Kadji had 13 for Miami (5-1) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which improved to 4-0 all-time against UMass.
The Minutemen were limited to 29 percent shooting from the field (18-of-63) and an even more woeful 22 percent (7-of-32) on their 3-point tries, including 3-of-20 in the first half alone.
Terrell Vinson (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Chaz Williams (11 points, 10 assists) each recorded double-doubles for UMass (3-3), but those two and Jesse Morgan (10 points) combined to shoot 9-of-38 from the floor.
“Between me, TV and Jesse, we made nine shots altogether. That’s not good,” said Williams, averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game entering Saturday. “If Coach is giving us the right to score, we’ve gotta be able to put the ball in the basket. We didn’t, and that played a big part.”
Morgan’s 3-pointer with 8:29 left in the second half nudged the Minutemen in front by one, 52-51. From there, UMass managed only one more field goal — a trey by Vinson with 2:52 to play — and Miami put together a 16-5 run, helped along when Johnson bowled over Vinson in the lane, drew the blocking foul on Vinson, scored and hit the free throw for a 3-point play that made it 60-54.
“He was a big factor,” said Vinson of Johnson, not without irony. “I thought he had about 20 rebounds. He was just a big presence out there. I was surprised he was able to play 33 minutes with us, but he held his own.”
“Once again in the second half, we had an opportunity in front of us,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “We went up one, and at that point, we kind of got away from what had made us successful to get it there. I thought the guys played hard, but we’ve gotta play a little bit better basketball, especially when you’re playing the high-level competition.”
In spite of its wretched first-half shooting, UMass led from the outset and built it to as many as six points at 18-12, but Miami scored the last nine points of the half over the last four minutes to lead 30-25 at the break. The Minutemen went 9-of-35 (26 percent) from the field through the first 20 minutes.
“I think we need to shoot the ball a tad bit better,” said Kellogg. “Especially in the first half, I felt like we had so many wide-open shots that didn’t go down. I’ve got to make a determination if we’re shooting too many threes, or if we’re not shooting enough in practice, or if guys aren’t working on their shooting on their own. When you have the green light and your coach has confidence in you shooting, I think guys have got to put the ball in the basket.”
The 3-point shooting picked up only slightly in the second half, with Raphiael Putney (nine points) draining back-to-back treys just before Morgan’s hoop gave UMass its brief 52-51 lead.
Rion Brown and Kadji then hit 3-pointers to get the Hurricanes’ decisive run started, followed by Johnson’s 3-point play with the contentious block-charge call. Johnson and Scott each made a pair at the line and Larkin, the son of new Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin, finished a conventional 3-point play of his own to make it 67-57 with 3:03 remaining.
“I don’t think it’s really a time to jump on the guys, I think it’s time to team-build and get them ready to play a road game where we’re probably one of the big games on their schedule,” said Kellogg.
UMass plays at Northeastern (4-3) tomorrow night at 7 p.m., the Minutemen’s first basketball game at Boston’s Matthews Arena since Dec. 9, 1989.