Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Miami's charge too late


RedHawks dig out of 13-point hole, lose close game

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

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Xavier's Lionel Chalmers and Miami's Chet Mason go for a loose ball.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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Perhaps Miami should try to start basketball games with a "2" on the scoreboard in the area marked "Period."

If nothing else, the RedHawks have proven through their first seven games that they are a second-half team.

Going into their game against Xavier at XU's Cintas Center Monday night, the RedHawks had been outscored by 21 points in the first halves of their six games, but had come back to outscore their opponents by 22 in the second half.

The RedHawks almost pulled out the victory against the 13th-ranked Musketeers. After trailing by 13 at halftime, the RedHawks outscored Xavier 36-33 in the second half and fought back to pull within one on two occasions before losing 68-58.

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Xavier head coach Thad Matta, left, greets Miami coach Charlie Coles after the game.
(AP photo)
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"I just think it's a group of guys trying to find themselves," Miami coach Charlie Coles said. "That's all that is. I think we'll get better as we go along.

"A lot of it is the opponent. We're playing some teams that make you kind of wonder, but I think it's just more of the intensity level."

Part of the problem could be the recent first-half struggles of junior forward Juby Johnson. He'd been held scoreless in the first halves of Miami's wins over Dayton and Western Michigan and he scored just five points in the first half against Xavier.

He finished with nine points against the Musketeers before fouling out with 2:41 left in the game.

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David West misses a dunk.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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"That's something I've noticed," Johnson said of his recent first-half doldrums. "(Coles) knows me. He knows that if I'm not scoring, I can do the little things, like play effective defense."

Johnson guarded Xavier junior forward Romain Sato, the Musketeers' first option after Player of the Year candidate David West, Monday.

Johnson limited Sato to three shots and four points in the first half and nine points for the game.

Johnson scored four of Miami's first nine points in the second half, and it was his 3-pointer that pulled the RedHawks within one, 52-51, with 8:15 left in the game.

"(Coles) called a couple of early plays for me, and I was able to get off to a quick start," Johnson said. "I just think the team clicked as a whole in the second half."




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