Lairy scores career-high 34, but MU falls to 'Dogs
By MIKE SMITH
ATHENS, GA -- Three days after cruising past Goshen College, the Miami RedHawks (1-2) found themselves playing with the Big Dawgs.
Dawgs, that is, as in Georgia.
Last year's Miami team pulled off an upset win over Georgia, but that MU bunch was a much different squad. This year's team, under the direction of new Head Coach Travis Steele, is a much younger group. Tuesday's final results, therefore, were not all that surprising -- a 77-70 Georgia victory at Stegeman Colesium.
Until several more experienced players return, the RedHawks are grinding through November with a relatively young group. Point guard Mekhi Lairy was the only returning . . .
. . . starter from last year in Tuesday's lineup, and he kept Miami in the game while finishing with nearly half MU's points.
The fifth-year player scored a career-high 34 points, hitting 10-of-18 from the field overall and four-of-seven from outside the arc. He was a perfect 10-of-10 at the line. Joining Lairy in double figures were freshman Billy Smith (12 points) and center Anderson Mirmbeaux (10).
All but two of Miami's points came from the starting lineup. Georgia, meanwhile, got 23 points from its bench.
The Bulldogs dominated early, taking advantage of Miami turnovers and shooting for a 10-0 Georgia lead. After a RedHawks timeout, Julian Lewis got MU on the board with a jumper at 16:40.
Although Miami had begun to find its touch, the Bulldogs continued to score. Kario Oquendo's triple at 6:55 gave Georgia a 27-10 advantage -- its largest lead of the night.
Miami was able to chip away after that and worked its deficit down to seven points before Jusaun Holt drained a trey with four seconds left in the period. Georgia made 6-of-13 attempts from behind the arc and connected on 46.2 percent overall from the floor before intermission.
The Bulldogs would cool off from long distance after that, sinking just 1-of-10 triples over the final 20 minutes. They also went from six first half turnovers to 12 more in the second period.
Miami, however, was able to take advantage largely though the efforts of Lairy. He led all scorers with 15 first half points and added 19 over the final 20 minutes.
The RedHawks chipped away, and a triple by Lairy at 12:57 pulled them within seven at 49-42. He followed that with a steal and layup to make it a five-point game. After another Georgia turnover, Lairy brought the ball up court and zipped a pass to Billy Smith in the corner. When the freshman connected with his trey, Miami was within two at 49-47 with 11:58 to play.
MU had one more shot at the lead before Georgia slowly moved back out to a 10-point cushion (63-53) at 7:22. While the RedHawks were able to pull within three with 26 seconds left, UG sealed its victory with four free throws.
In the end, Georgia's relative success from the stripe was one of the game's key factors. Miami went 12-of-12 at the line, but UG doubled that with 24 makes on 30 charity tosses. The Bulldogs also out-rebounded MU 42.27.
Miami finished with 25 field goals to 23 for the hosts. The RedHawks had one more trey and hit 43.9 percent from the field. Georgia was good on 39.7 percent from the field.
Senior Terry Roberts led the 'Dogs with 22 points. Freshman Kyeron Lindsay recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 caroms.
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.