CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Matthew Cleveland scored 23 points, Bensley Joseph and Wooga Poplar each added 18 and No. 12 Miami rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to beat neighboring FIU 86-80 on Monday night.
Nigel Pack scored 17 points and Norchad Omier had 11 rebounds for the Hurricanes (3-0), who won a game with wild back-and-forth momentum swings.
Arturo Dean scored 19 for FIU (0-3), while Dashon Gittens added 14 and Javaunte Hawkins had 11.
The Panthers fell to 0-25 all-time against ranked opponents — and, playing a road game nine miles from their campus, had a big chance to change that.
Down by 17 after 10 minutes, FIU — a 21 1/2-point underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook — outscored Miami 42-13 over the next 14 minutes. What was a 28-11 Miami lead had become a 53-41 FIU lead early in the second half, an upset looking very possible.
That is until Miami immediately answered with a 19-0 run to take the lead back for good. The Hurricanes shot 7 for 8 in that decisive stretch, then held on at the end. George Pridgett Jr. made a 3-pointer with 1:49 left to get FIU within 80-76, but Poplar hit a 3 on the next Miami possession to help seal the win.
It was the first meeting between the programs since 2008, in large part because FIU and Miami refused to play each other in any sport for years as part of the fallout from the football brawl between the schools in 2006. The brawl — which had one player swinging a helmet, another swinging a crutch and more than a few kicking opponents on the ground — led to 31 players being suspended.
Over time, relationships between FIU and Miami were restored. The schools met in women's basketball in four consecutive seasons from 2015 through 2018, Miami going 4-0 and winning by an average of 26.8 points. The baseball teams have faced each other annually since 2017, except for 2020 because of the pandemic. And most famously, the Panthers' football team topped the Hurricanes in 2019.
The basketball team had a chance at another stunner, only to let it slip away.