Miami Hurricanes: Thank God For Ja’Quan Newton
If there’s one thing that people love about sports its the fact that no matter the odds, you don’t quit.
What if the Miami Heat had quit when they were down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs? How much different would their season be? Similar to the Miami Heat, on a lesser scale, the Miami Hurricanes are now looking like they too will be a team that will not quit. For the Miami Hurricanes basketball team, this year it’s looking like the theme is to continue to keep fighting until the buzzer sounds off. It’s not about how you start but how you finish and this basketball team is making everyone proud in South Florida because they don’t quit.
On Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes got hyped for their Atlantic Coast Conference opening game against Syracuse University and they won the contest 64-51. Just looking at the rosters on paper, many expected this game to become a blowout, runaway type of contest but this game was the complete opposite.
If you look at the raw numbers of the first half, then you would’ve never expected Miami to come atop of the contest as the winner. Miami played one of the worst first halves that their team had ever played and it still didn’t matter.
Miami ended the first half scoring a grand total of 17 points. Yes, you read that correctly, 17 points. One of the reasons for the low scoring first half is because the team simply couldn’t make a jump shot to save their life. Thanks to the 2-3 defense of Syracuse who puts emphasis on making teams defeat them by making perimeter jump shots, Miami shot a terrible 19.2% from the floor. Additionally, it didn’t help their case when the Hurricanes also turned the ball over seven times in the first half. When a team does down that big at halftime, especially to a team that plays a 2-3 defense as their base set, it’s a huge surprise they were able to emerge victoriously.
At halftime if you’ve scored that few bit of points then the thinking normally becomes you might as well pack it in and start thinking about your next opponent. Instead of hampering on the terrible first half, Miami made sure that they didn’t let up.
The good news is Miami never thought for a second that they wouldn’t be able to pull out a victory because the game never got too out of hand. Due to the fact that Miami themselves played very good defense, they entered halftime losing only 25-17. With the fire in their stomachs to stay ranked and become the best team in the ACC, they came out the second half with a fury. Miami started the half on a 13-4 run and never looked back.
One of the important reasons why Miami was able to turn their game around and pull out the clutch victory is because of their backup point guard Ja’Quan Newton. The sophomore point guard had himself yet another great game as he scored 14 points in the second half to help Miami capture their first ACC opening game win in three years since they did it to Georgia Tech.
Newton had himself a field day shooting the basketball as he went 3-of-4 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range. Newton also was 6-of-8 from the free throw line as well. Newton might technically be listed as the backup point guard behind Angel Rodriguez because he’s a senior and has earned his right as the true starter, but coach Jim Larranaga isn’t afraid to use him in lineups with his best players since he pound-for-pound is one of the five best players on the team. His production once again has shown why he’s value is so important to Miami’s success.
Miami will now get one more opportunity on their home floor against arch rival Florida State before they will have to travel on the road against No. 5 Virginia, Clemson, and Boston College. These next four games could get the Hurricanes ranked within the top 10, or it could push them out of the top 25.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.