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No. 12 Miami stays unbeaten at 4-0, tops Georgia in Baha Mar Bahamas tournament

Matthew Cleveland scored 18 points, Nijel Pack added 16
Miami's Matthew Cleveland listens to a question during media day for the Miami NCAA college basketball team, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in Coral Gables, Fla.
Posted at 7:52 PM, Nov 17, 2023

NASSAU, Bahamas — Miami coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff noticed the trend during the preseason. Whenever a scrimmage would take place, there was always one side that would string a bunch of baskets consecutively together.

"Spurtability," Larrañaga calls it.

It has carried over to the regular season — and the Hurricanes brought it to the Bahamas, too.

Matthew Cleveland scored 18 points, Nijel Pack added 16 and No. 12 Miami topped Georgia 79-68 on Friday in the opening round of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship. A 12-0 run in the first half — Miami's sixth double-digit unanswered scoring burst so far this season — helped put the Hurricanes in control.

"At any time throughout the game, this Miami team is capable of reeling off a bunch of points in a hurry," Georgia coach Mike White said. "And you know, you watch it on TV last spring, you watch it on film here over these past few days, now seeing it live, it really hits home how good these guys are offensively."

Wooga Poplar finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Hurricanes (4-0), who are coming off a Final Four run last season. Bensley Joseph also scored 13 for Miami, and Norchad Omier battled through foul trouble to score 11.

Blue Cain scored 18 for Georgia (2-2), and Noah Thomasson added 14 and Jabri Abdur-Rahim finished with 13 for the Bulldogs. Georgia fell to 5-22 over the last five years against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25.

But for the first 10 minutes, it sure looked like the Bulldogs had a chance to change that.

Cain had seven points in a 10-0 run that put Georgia up 19-11 midway through the first half, and after Miami rallied, he hit a 3-pointer with 5:25 left before intermission to put the Bulldogs up 26-24.

By then, though, Miami had hit its best stride. And Georgia wouldn't lead again.

"I thought we did a decent job playing with a ton of energy defensively," White said. "I thought we played really, really hard. Obviously, we've got to be better offensively."

The Hurricanes outscored Georgia 21-6 in the final 7:25 of the half to take a 39-29 lead into the break, the 12-0 run coming as part of that stretch. The lead eventually reached 20 on two occasions in the second half, and Miami's margin was double figures for the final 18:23.

In the opener against NJIT, Miami had scoring runs of 21-0 and 10-0. Against UCF, the big run was 11-0. In the comeback win over crosstown rival FIU earlier this week, Miami needed runs of 14-0 and 19-0 to pull out a six-point win. And the 12-0 run on Friday now gets added to that list.

"Overall, a great, great team effort," Larrañaga said.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: The Bulldogs are going to be battle-tested when they get into their Southeastern Conference slate of games that start Jan. 6. Georgia is opening the season with four of its first five games against Power 5 schools; four of its first nine games are against ACC schools.

Miami: It's a 4-0 start for the second consecutive season for the Hurricanes. The last time that happened was 2017-18 (10-0) and 2018-19 (5-0), when Miami finished off a run of five consecutive seasons starting at least 4-0. The Hurricanes have led for 139 of a possible 160 minutes so far this season, while trailing for only 15 of those minutes.