Six RedHawks reach double figures as MU tops Tigers
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Two games into a four-game home stand, the Miami RedHawks have wins to show for both their opportunities. The latest came Tuesday as MU downed Jackson State 95-78. Technically, it marked the first "win streak" of the Travis Steele area as Miami won back-to-back games for the first time this year while raising its overall record to 3-4. The loss dropped JSU to 0-6 -- all on the road.
Beyond their victory, however, the RedHawks . . .
. . . are also showing promising signs of what may be yet to come. For the second game in a row:
-- Miami got off to a hot start.
-- The RedHawks thrived from beyond the arc
-- MU had a high number of assists to go along with successful shooting
Head coach Travis Steele has been emphasizing that good shooting teams are good passing teams. Miami fit the bill again Tuesday, recording 23 assists on 33 made field goals. The RedHawks shot 60 percent from the field overall (33-of-55) and 50 percent (14-of-28) from beyond the arc.
Six RedHawks reached double figures, led by Morgan Safford's 26 points. The 6-5 redshirt junior hit 9-of-14 shots overall, including three-of-six on treys and five-of-six at the line. Several of the scores in the paint came on deft assists from Anderson Mirambeaux, a 6-8 senior that Steele noted earlier this year is a particularly skilled passer. While they came from different programs, Safford said they have been developing a chemistry in the time they have been together.
"I think me and Anderson are both high-IQ players," Safford said. "We're starting to pick up on each other. He knows I'm going to cut to the rim when its open, and I know he's going to find me. I just try to make the layup when it comes."
Overall, Mirambeaux recorded a game-high seven assists to go with seven rebounds and 12 points in 21 minutes. Also reaching double figures were Ryan Mabry (15 points), Billy Smith (14 points), Julian Lewis (13 points) and Mekhi Lairy (11 points).
Miami, which never trailed, jumped out to a 7-2 lead after a Safford triple at 18:21. However, the Tigers shot well enough to stay with MU for a while. Jackson State trailed 17-16 at 14:55. Miami then began to expand its lead. A Lairy trey at 5:25 put the hosts in front by 13, and MU eventually went to the locker room with a 45-32 edge.
As well as Miami shot in the first half (53.3 percent), it was even more on target after intermission. The RedHawks made 68 percent (17-of-25) of their shots from the field and 62.5 percent (5-of-8) on treys over the second stanza.
"We moved the ball and found the open man," Safford said. "We have great shooters that can knock down a lot of open threes."
Jackson State also shot well, actually knocking down one more field goal and one more trey after intermission, but Miami knocked down 11-of-13 free throws during the period. JSU hit four-of-five in the same span.
Coltie Young led Jackson State with 20 points. Ken Evans and Jamarcus Jones tallied 18 each, while Romelle Mansel tallied 12 points.
~~ The RedHawks continue to help themselves at the foul line. They hit all four first half opportunities while building a double-digit lead and went 11-of-13 in the second stanza. That helped hold off Jackson State, which connected on 52.9 percent from the field and 66.7 percent outside the arc after intermission.
~~ Miami is awaiting the return of several front line players, which could help in rebounding. Jackson State held a 34-22 edge on the boards. The Tigers also scored 15 second chance points to nine for MU.
"We're going to score points -- a lot of points," Steele said. "But we've got to rebound the ball. I'm tired of giving up second chance shots and third chance shots. It's ridiculous. ... We have to fix that. Teams are going to make you pay."
~~ Due to injuries, Tuesday's lineup was the first time guards Safford and Julian Lewis started together. Steele said it was happy to get have both available and noted it was another step for trying to figure out rotations "on the fly." We don't even have Kamari (Williams), Curtis (Harrison IV) or Javin (Etzler) yet. All three are forwards.
~~ Five Miami players had at least one 3-point goal.
~~ Ryan Mabry contributed 15 of 19 points recorded by the Miami bench.
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Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.