CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Malcolm Grant scored 23 points and Miami beat Florida Atlantic 85-62 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night.
The Hurricanes outscored the Owls 15-1 during a 5:22 span in the second half to secure their 20th win of the season. Durand Scott's two free throws with 4:23 remaining capped the run and gave the Hurricanes (20-13) a 66-51 lead.
"As a coach you're excited when you can get that number," Miami coach Frank Haith said of Miami's win total. "We're still playing. There are a lot of sneakers and jerseys that are hung up. We still have an opportunity to grow as a basketball team."
Adrian Thomas and Scott hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half to give Miami a 45-30 lead before the Owls scored six unanswered points to stay within single digits. Greg Gantt's basket with 12:23 remaining cut Miami's lead to 51-45.
Miami was coming off a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament.
Scott scored 19 points while Reggie Johnson finished with 14 points and 20 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who will host Missouri State in the second round.
Gantt led the Owls (21-11) with 17 points.
"If you're going to beat a good ACC team, you have to play incredibly well," Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis said. "We didn't. Tonight, we could dwell on the negative but we have done too much for that. I'm proud of these kids."
Johnson scored six straight points during a 10-0 run midway through the first half. His third basket of the spurt put Miami ahead 17-9 with 10:30 remaining.
"I didn't want to come out with the mindset that I wanted to take a lot of shots," Johnson said. "I was just going after the rebounds and taking what was given to me."