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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – When Sheldon McClellan arrived at Miami last year after transferring from Texas, he told Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga he lacked confidence in his game.
McClellan said he needed a lot of work.
A short while later, Larranaga met with his staff and told them, "this is one of our goals — to get him to understand just how good he can be."
The coaching seems to be working.
McClellan scored a career-high 31 points and had 11 rebounds as No. 17 Miami defeated Charlotte for the second time in three days, 77-74 on Tuesday night.
McClellan, who had 19 points in the Hurricanes' 19-point win over Charlotte in the Charleston Classic championship on Sunday, was 11 of 17 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Even after a strong showing in the tournament, McClellan was still fighting a lack of self-confidence.
He was so worried about his shooting stroke that assistant coaches took him to an area high school gym on Monday night where he worked an hour on perfecting his shot.
"I'm getting a little more confident in my 3-point shooting," McClellan said. "The last few games I haven't been that confident."
Manu Lecomte scored 18 points and Angel Rodriguez had 14 as the Hurricanes (6-0) shot a blazing 14 of 23 from beyond the arc.
Freshman guard Torin Dorn and Mike Thorne Jr. each had 17 points for Charlotte (3-2).
Miami broke into the Top 25 on Monday after opening the season five wins on the road, including at then-No. 8 Florida.
This game was much tighter than the one two days ago in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Hurricanes led 38-37 at halftime, but opened the second half by hitting their first seven shots from the field, including five 3-pointers. McClellan and Lecomte each had a pair of 3s during that crucial stretch as Miami built a 57-47 lead.
Charlotte managed to stay close, but McClellan appeared ready to take over with about six minutes remaining, finishing a spinning move in the low post with a soft layup off the backboard. Then he outraced the field for a fast-break layup that pushed the lead to 73-60 before shouting to the crowd, "Let's go home now!"
Charlotte, however, made another run and pulled to 75-72 with a minute remaining when Braxton Ogbueze knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner. The 49ers had a chance to tie, but Pierria Henry missed a 3 from the wing with 19 seconds left.
After a missed free throw by Miami, Ogbueze was fouled shooting a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 9 seconds left and made the first two free throws but missed the third. The 49ers immediately fouled McClellan, who sank two free throws with 8.4 seconds left.
Charlotte had one last chance to tie, but Ogbueze missed a long, off-balance 3-pointer from the left wing with 2 seconds left.
"I probably could have gathered myself a little better and gotten a better crack at it," Ogbueze said.
Larranaga said he thought about fouling to avoid the 3-point shot, but decided against it.
Charlotte looked much sharper than on Sunday when it turned the ball over 19 times in a blowout loss to Miami.
The 49ers jumped out to a 21-13 lead behind a solid transition game and 10 first-half points off the bench from Dorn.
Miami: Tonye Jekiri had 13 rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
Charlotte: The 49ers were 10 of 19 from the free throw line.
The Hurricanes will return home after an 11-day road trip. "It has been a long run and we accomplished a lot during this trip," Rodriguez said. "But we knew it can all be out the window if we lose this game. It wasn't pretty, but we got the win and that's all that matters."
Miami: Hosts South Alabama on Friday night.
Charlotte: At UNC-Asheville on Sunday.