Matthew Cleveland tied his career high with 23 points and 12th-ranked Miami used a 23-2 second-half run to rally past visiting Florida International 86-80 on Monday in Coral Gables, Fla.
This was the first game between these local rivals — separated by about 10 miles — in 15 years. The Hurricanes, who trailed by 12 points in the second half, lead the series 13-1.
Miami (3-0) also got 18 points each from Wooga Poplar and Bensley Joseph. Nijel Pack added 17 points and a team-high five assists. Norchad Omier, who battled foul trouble, had six points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Cleveland, a transfer from Florida State, was spectacular, making 8 of 10 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts. He also made 4 of 5 free throws, and he added seven rebounds and four assists.
FIU (0-3) was led by Arturo Dean, who struggled with in-game injuries but still managed 19 points and a game-high six assists. Dashon Gittens had 14 points, and Javaunte Hawkins added 11 points.
The Panthers’ bench outscored Miami’s 34-4. FIU also had a 24-2 advantage on second-chance points as the Panthers had 16 of the game’s 23 offensive rebounds.
Miami led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but FIU closed the period on a 14-3 run, cutting the deficit to 41-39 at the break.
Dean led FIU with 10 first-half points to go with four assists and three rebounds. Poplar had 12 first-half points for the Hurricanes, but Omier was held scoreless.
Omier picked up his third foul early in the second half as FIU started on 14-0 run, taking a 53-41 lead with 16:10 left.
Miami came right back with a 19-0 run that ended with a Poplar 3-pointer with 11:29 remaining. That shot gave the Hurricanes a 60-53 lead.
A put-back by Cleveland with 5:25 to go was Miami’s first second-chance bucket of the game, giving the Hurricanes a 76-66 advantage.
The Hurricanes hung on from there as they shot 58.5 percent from the floor for the game, including 13-for-21 on 3-pointers (61.9 percent).
FIU shot 45.1 percent, including 11-of-33 from long range(33.3 percent).
–Field Level Media
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