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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) – Ja’Quan Newton scored 21 points as Miami defeated North Carolina State 81-63 in the ACC opener for both teams Saturday.
The Hurricanes (11-2, 1-0 ACC) expanded a nine-point lead at halftime to 61-43 on Ebuka Izundu’s tip-in with 7:23 remaining in the second half. The Wolfpack (11-3, 0-1 ACC) got no closer than 67-56 on Dennis Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3:53 left.
Davon Reed scored 20 points and Bruce Brown finished with 17 points for the Hurricanes. Miami’s Kamari Murphy finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Smith scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack.
The victory extended Miami’s winning streak to seven while the loss snapped a six-game winning streak for North Carolina State.
Miami’s starters vs. NC State: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Davon Reed, Dewan Huell and Kamari Murphy.
Freshmen Bruce Brown, Dewan Huell, Rodney Miller and DJ Vasiljevic each played in the first ACC games of their careers.
Following the victory over NC State, Coach Jim Larrañaga is just one win shy of 600 career victories, posting a 599-393 mark in 33 seasons as a head coach. He is 129-59 in his sixth season at Miami and 55-34 in the ACC.
Miami has won 21 straight games at the Watsco Center, with an 8-0 mark this season, added to 13 straight victories in the 2015-16 campaign. UM's last loss at home was Nov. 27, 2015, when the Canes fell, 78-77, to Northeastern. In six seasons under Coach L, Miami is 71-20 overall at home.
The Canes are 5-8 in ACC openers since joining the league for the 2004-05 season. UM is 1-5 on the road and 4-3 at home in ACC opening games. The Canes have started ACC play at home for four straight seasons after being on the road four-straight from 2009-10 to 2012-13. Miami has now won back-to-back ACC openers for the second time since joining the league. The other occurrence was the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns.
Senior guard Davon Reed scored 12 first-half points and ended the night with 20 points. He has now recorded three career 20-point games, with 21 against both FAU (12-16-16) and Virginia (2-22-16). He has scored in double digits 11 times this season, including nine straight games.
Reed knocked down a 3-pointer a 18:52 in the first half to score Miami’s first points of the ACC slate. He finished the night with three makes from downtown, now hitting 173-pointers in the past five outings. He has hit multiple shots from long range in nine games this season and has hit a three in every contest.
Ja’Quan Newton led the Hurricanes with 21 points against NC State, topping his previous ACC high of 18 vs. Wake Forest (1-23-16). He has scored 11-plus points in every game but one (FAU-8) this season. Newton scored 15 points in the first half against NC State. His previous first-half high was 12 vs. Stanford in the AdvoCare Invitational on Nov. 24. The last time a Cane had 15-or-more points in the first half was in the 2016 NCAA Tournament when Angel Rodriguez had 16 points in the first half vs. Wichita State.
Freshman guard Bruce Brown pulled down eight boards and now has grabbed at least four rebounds in each of the first 13 games, has eight-or-more in six outings and pulled down double-digit boards in two contests.
Sophomore forward Ebuka Izundu grabbed seven rebounds, topping his season high of five (twice) and his previous ACC high of two against North Carolina last season, as well as equaling his career high, set last season against Mississippi State (11/19/15).
Sophomore guard Anthony Lawrence pulled down five rebounds, topping his ACC-best of four (twice) last season.
With 11 points and 10 rebounds, senior forward Kamari Murphy recorded the fourth double-double of his career, his third as a Hurricane and second of the season. He has now recorded double-digit rebounds five times this season, all within in the last nine games, and logged double-digit points three times.
Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga
“Well that was an outstanding performance, defensively, from us, from start to finish. We have great respect for NC State’s ability to put a ton of points on the board. Dennis Smith is truly one of the great players in the country. Forget that he is just a freshman, he is one of the best point guards. Torin Dorn and Terry Henderson are major double figure scorers. So you really have to defend them well. We have had trouble in the past defending their big people. So from start to finish I thought we were really focused on the defensive end of the floor. I thought my staff did a great job of preparing them. Chris Caputo who is our associate head coach and our defensive coordinator, he talked a lot to the scout team coordinator, who is Adam Fisher. And along with Jamal Brunt, who organizes our offense. The three of them came up with a great game plan and the players were very focused on executing it. But as Davon [Reed] said, ‘It is only one. A Very important one, you like to get off to a good start but it is only one of 18.’ So we are going to have to put this one quickly behind us and get ready for the next one.”
On what the team did especially well defensively…
“Well, they’re really great in the open court and scoring off of the turnovers. And the last timeout we had 20 something turnovers. And tonight we only had eight. We took care of the basketball, we did not make a lot of miscues that led to their fast break layups and dunks. We also distributed the ball. Our three starting guards – Ja’Quan [Newton], Bruce [Brown] and Davon [Reed] – were able to get scoring opportunities because our big guys were so active. Setting screens, bringing their men away from the basket and I thought one of the key matchups was Anthony Lawerence Jr. coming in off the bench and giving us a nice lift in the first half. And of course Kamari Murphy having a double-double, 11 points and 10 rebounds. It has got to be a team effort, and it will be a challenge every night to play against these players. Because as talented as these guys are, so are 10 of the other teams in this conference. And you saw that in some of the earlier games today when Virginia Tech scored 89 and then you see Georgia Tech was able to defeat North Carolina. And Florida State earned a road win, Clemson won on the road at Wake. Those are really impressive victories.”
On what he saw out of junior guard Ja’Quan Newton…
“Well I think he has been. He is our leading scorer; he leads us in assists. His challenge is to distribute the ball and get everybody else involved. And today I really thought he did a good job of that. Early in the offense we were getting Davon Reed shots, Anthony Lawerence Jr. shots. The whole thing about offense is good balance. We did not make as many threes as we would have liked, but we were really good in the paint. Really good at driving the ball and finishing.”
On Bruce Brown’s first ACC game…
“Like he has handled the whole season. He is really special. He just enjoys himself. He wants to compete every night. I thought in the first half his energy level was so high, that he was going to have a hard time calming down and making a shot. But the second half he seemed to be very poised.“
North Carolina State Head Coach Mark Gottfried
On the game…
“They defended really well. I thought they actually outplayed us in just about every aspect of the game today. Offensively, we’ve got to learn to have more poise and execute what we’re trying to run better. Certainly, you have to give those guys credit. I thought they came out with a plan to not let Dennis (Smith, Jr.) get into the paint very much. What we’ve got to learn how to do is execute our offense against good defensive teams and defend better against good offensive teams, we are not there yet and we have to learn quickly – in this league. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game today.”
On the play of Ja’Quan Newton…
“I thought he was great. He played well. He scored the ball, he got to the paint and really – not just Newton – I thought that (Davon) Reed and (Bruce) Brown, those three guys, they got into the paint all day long and that was something we talked about – to try and keep them out of the paint and we didn’t do a good job of that. They beat us off the dribble, got to the rim, so those three guys, I thought were terrific on the perimeter for Miami.”
On whether team’s are going to start coming after Dennis Smith, Jr…
“I’m sure they are – there’s no question. People are going to want to make a name (for themselves) and that’s part of being Dennis Smith – you have to learn quick and he does and he will. He knows that he’s going to get everyone’s best shot – like today – Ja’Quan played great.”