CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — First-half foul trouble prevented Ebuka Izundu from contributing to his teammates’ dominant run.
Izundu more than did his share in the second half as he scored all 14 of his team-high points to lead Miami to a 92-43 win over Western Carolina in the season opener for both teams on Friday night.
“All my teammates told me to keep my head in the game,” said Izundu, who committed two offensive fouls 30 seconds into the game and sat out the rest of the half. “That what I did, try to help my team win.”
Izundu shot 5 of 5 from the field in his first start for the Hurricanes after a reserve role during his freshman season.
The Hurricanes started with an 18-4 spurt and maintained the double-digit lead the rest of the game, the first between both teams. Davon Reed keyed Miami’s early run with a 3-pointer and a dunk.
“Right from the start we showed a lot of focus, intensity, team work, helping each other defensively,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “At the offensive end, we shared the ball.”
Ja’Quan Newton, Kamari Murphy and Dewan Huell finished with 13 points each for Miami. Murphy scored 11 points in the first half and also finished with eight rebounds.
“Defensively we were great and we shared the ball,” Murphy said. “That’s the way basketball should be played.”
D.J. Vasiljevic’s 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining in the half gave Miami a 41-18 lead. Vasiljevic was the Hurricanes fifth double scorer with 11 points.
Three Western Carolina starters sat most of the first half because of foul trouble. Marc Gosselin committed four fouls in eight minutes and Devin Peterson and Charlendez Brooks had three each.
Deriece Parks and Onno Steger scored 10 points each for the Catamounts.
“We were very outmanned to be honest with you,” Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said. “I thought their length early on and speed of the game first seven-eight minutes we weren’t ready for that. First game jitters – our execution wasn’t very good and they took advantage of that.”
HIGHLIGHT REEL: Huell, the Hurricanes’ highly-regarded freshman, scored his first college points on a slam dunk 3:08 into the game. Huell followed the dunk with a three-point play midway through the first half.
HOMECOMING DEBUT: Catamounts freshman guard Maurice Smith, of neighboring Lauderdale Lakes, played 14 minutes in the second half. Smith was scoreless and had two assists.
Miami: The early signing period rewarded the Hurricanes with two players ranked in the top 100, according to recruiting services. Miami’s early signees and members of the 2017-18 freshman class are 5-foot-7 guard Chris Lykes, of Gonzaga College High in Bowie, Md., Deng Gak, a 6-foot-11 forward from Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey.
Western Carolina: The Catamounts are 3-31 against ACC teams. Their last victory against a team from a Power Five conference was in 2001, when they defeated Florida State, 79-69. The Catamounts defeated then Big East-member Louisville in 2009.
Miami: the Hurricanes make their first road trip of the season Wednesday at North Florida. Miami is 3-0 in the all-time series against the Ospreys with the three victories at home.
Western Carolina: the Catamounts open their 2016-17 home schedule against Hiwassee on Sunday afternoon. Western Carolina plays eight of its first 10 on the road.
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