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MIAMI (The Sports Xchange) — No. 13 Miami recovered from its worst half of basketball all season and rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to a 64-51 victory over Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday afternoon.
Guard Sheldon McClellan scored 22 points and guard Ja’Quan Newton chipped in with 14 as the Hurricanes (12-1, 1-0 ACC) outscored the visiting Orange 47-26 in the second half.
Guard Malachi Richardson led Syracuse (10-5, 0-2) with 20 points.
The Hurricanes took their first lead since holding a 9-5 advantage early in the first half when forward Kamari Murphy scored on a breakaway dunk to make it 30-29 with 14:04 left in the game and eventually worked their way to a 41-34 advantage five minutes later.
But the Orange responded with an 8-0 run and the game went back and forth until Newton followed a 3-pointer with two free throws to put Miami up 49-44 with 3:57 left. Then guard Angel Rodriguez followed with a key steal and old-fashioned three-point play just 10 seconds later to give Miami an eight-point cushion, which eventually reached 14 points in the game’s final minute.
Syracuse led 25-17 at the half, mostly on the strength of a 12-0 run that turned a 9-8 deficit into a 20-9 lead with 4:23 left in the period.
It was the lowest-scoring half of the season for the Hurricanes, who never could get into a comfortable rhythm against the Orange’s 2-3 zone. They made only five of their 26 field goal attempts in the period (19.2 percent). Syracuse was not all that much better, going 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) from the field.
Syracuse’s biggest lead came with less than three minutes left in the first period when guard Trevor Cooney’s 3-pointer gave the Orange a 12-point bulge, 23-11.
The Hurricanes began to show some life after that with McClellan hitting a pair of free throws and guard Angel Rodriguez assisting on a dunk by center Toney Jekiri and a layup by McClellan for six unanswered points.
But Richardson closed out the scoring with a jumper with 38 seconds left in the half to put Syracuse back in front by eight.
NOTES: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was not on the bench at Miami while continuing to serve a nine-game NCAA-mandated suspension for violation of the so-called “responsibility rule” that holds a coach responsible for actions by his subordinates. His first game back will be Jan. 9 when the Orange host North Carolina. … This is the only scheduled meeting between Miami and Syracuse in the regular season. … The Hurricanes came into the game having lost their last three ACC openers.
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