Bruce Brown helps Miami knock off No. 9 North Carolina

By The Sports Xchange
Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga. (CanesAllAccess/YouTube)
Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga. (CanesAllAccess/YouTube)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Who saw this coming?

After losing by double digits at Wake Forest and Duke and barely hanging on for a one-point win over Boston College upon returning home, Miami responded in a big way Saturday afternoon with a 77-62 win over ninth-ranked North Carolina, saddling the ACC-leading Tar Heels with their worst defeat of the season.


The unranked Hurricanes (14-6, 4-4 ACC) got a career-high 30 points from freshman guard Bruce Brown and used an unplanned but aggressive zone defense to hold the Tar Heels (19-4, 7-2) to a season-low points total.

"Not a lot to say," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "A big-time kicking of our rear ends is what it was."

The Hurricanes shot only 41.1 percent from the field and were an ordinary 7 of 20 on 3-pointers, but they held the visitors to 35 percent shooting overall and 29.2 percent from behind the arc, outrebounded the Tar Heels 41-36 and forced them into 14 turnovers while committing only 10 -- after making 33 in their last two games combined.


"I told the team afterwards I think we've played three, and only three, complete games since the ACC season started," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "That was N.C. State, Notre Dame, and today."

It was, Larranaga said, a total team effort.

In addition to Brown, guard Ja'Quan Newton scored 18 points and guard Davon Reed had 14 for the Hurricanes. Newton and Reed also had seven rebounds each, and Brown dished out five assists.

"Me, personally, it's good, but I'm just happy that we won," Brown said. "All I care about is winning."

Forward Justin Jackson scored 21 points to lead North Carolina, but the only other Tar Heel in double figures was guard Nate Britt with 10 points. Guard Joel Berry III, who came into the day averaging 15.5 points a game, managed only two points, both coming from the free throw line. He missed all eight of his attempts from the field.

"We just didn't make shots, they did," Berry said. "They wanted it more than us. There's nothing more to it than not hitting shots."

The game took a dramatic turn early when the Hurricanes switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone after falling behind 11-2 in the first 4 1/2 minutes. Ironically, the zone wasn't among the 14 points Larranaga had outlined for his players in the game plan, but it worked. The Hurricanes went on a 13-2 run to take a 15-13 lead on Newton's jumper at the 13:49 mark.


"There are times when a team will slow down and play a bit more patiently against a zone," Larranaga said. "So my coaching staff decided at least to try to slow them down with a zone for a few possessions. When it worked, we decided we'd stick with it."

After Jackson gave North Carolina the lead back at 18-16 with a 3-pointer, Brown countered with three free throws to ignite a 20-2 run for the Hurricanes.

Miami had its biggest lead in the first half at 39-20 with 1:12 left in the period before settling for a 39-22 advantage at the break.

North Carolina then fell behind 56-34 with just over 12 minutes left in the game and trailed by double digits the rest of the way.

"The second half we got it down to 11, I think it was at one point, and the ball was laying on the floor and we didn't have anybody dive for it," Williams said. "They got it and made a three and made it back to 14. That was about eight minutes to play.

"That was a big play as far as I was concerned."

NOTES: North Carolina was without junior guard/forward Theo Pinson, who injured his ankle Thursday in the win over Virginia Tech. Pinson missed the first 16 games after injuring the same foot in the preseason. ... Miami's 17-point lead at halftime and 22-point cushion in the second half were the largest deficits this season for the Tar Heels, whose 22 points the first 20 minutes also were their season-low for a half. Their previous low was 29 in a loss to Indiana. ... This was the first of two back-to-back games against ranked foes for Miami with both at home. The Hurricanes host current No. 6 Florida State Wednesday. ... North Carolina and Miami are not scheduled to meet again in the regular season.


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