CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Three days after a sluggish outing against the Ivy League’s Columbia, Miami performed at a different level in its ACC opener.
Ja’Quan Newton scored 21 points as the Hurricanes defeated North Carolina State 81-63 Saturday.
The Hurricanes (11-2) 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) got no closer than 67-56 on Dennis Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3:53 left.
“It was an outstanding performance defensively from us from start to finish,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We have great respect for NC State and their ability to put a ton of points on the board.”
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.
“It’s a good win but like coach said it’s one of 18,” Reed said. “There can be times in this league when you can win two-three in a row, lose two-three in a row. It’s a grind. We’re happy for this one right now but we have to get back to work.”
Miami, which committed 20 turnovers in the 11-point win over Columbia, reduced the total to eight against the Wolfpack. The Hurricanes also outrebounded North Carolina 41-33, including 17-13 on the offensive end.
“We stuck to our defensive principles, making sure to take second-chance opportunities away from them, only let them get one shot and not multiple attempts at the basket,” Reed said. “I think we did a pretty good job of executing that.”
The victory extended Miami’s winning streak to seven while the loss snapped a six-game winning streak for North Carolina State.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game today,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “Offensively, we’ve got to learn to have a lot more poise and execute what we’re trying to run better. Certainly you have to give those guys credit.”
Smith scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack. The freshman guard, projected as a NBA lottery selection, scored 16 points in the second half.
The Hurricanes acknowledged Smith’s status entering the game but also emphasized the conference’s talent depth.
“With all due respect, he’s a talented player but we treat him like any other player in this league,” Reed said. “There are a lot of talented players in this league.”
However, Gottfried knows his star player nonetheless will be a marked target the rest of the season.
“There’s no question people want to make a name,” Gottfried said. “That’s part of being Dennis Smith. You better learn quickly. And he does and he will. He knows that and he’s going to get everybody’s best shot like today.”
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack avoided a larger first-half deficit because of their 3-point efficiency. North Carolina State shot 11 of 30 from the field but 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
Miami: Under coach Jim Larranaga, the Hurricanes have reached the NCAA the previous two times they won their conference openers.
LONG DISTANCE CONNECTION
Reed’s three 3-pointers against North Carolina State increased his total to 17 from behind the arc in the last five games. Reed has hit a 3-pointer in Miami’s 13 games.
TWENTY AND SOMETHING
Smith scored 20 points or better for the seventh time this season. Smith shot 7 of 14 from the field and hit all three of his 3-pointers in the second half.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack open their home conference schedule against Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Miami: The Hurricanes begin their conference schedule at Syracuse on Wednesday.
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