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Larkin, Kadji lead Miami to 76-58 win over Virginia Tech

The SportsXchange

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Whatever lingering effects Miami may have had after seeing its 14-game winning streak snapped in its previous game didn't last long.

A little over half of a half, in fact.

With sophomore Shane Larkin and senior Kenny Kadji leading the way with 22 and 20 points, respectively, the Hurricanes pulled away from Virginia Tech over the final 38 minutes to post a 76-58 victory over the Hokies on Wednesday night.

Though it was a matchup of first- and last-place teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Larkin said the game was important to the Hurricanes, who had lost their previous outing by 15 points at Wake Forest.

"A lot of people were going to see how we could react to the game at Wake Forest, how we would respond to a loss like that." Larkin said. "I think we came out and imposed our will early.

"We kept our intensity up in the second half but kind of lowered it a little bit from the eight-minute mark to the five-minute mark. That was a negative thing, but overall we played pretty good."

The Hurricanes (23-4), 14-1) shot the ball well (50 percent) and held the Hokes (12-16, 3-12) to under 40 percent (39.6). The Hurricanes also won in rebounding 31-30 and had six steals, three by Trey McKinney Jones.

But the catalyst was Larkin.

"He's tough," Tech coach James Johnson said. "We had no answer for him. He's the key to that team."

In addition to his work at the offensive end where he had six assists to go with his shooting (8 of 12), Larkin also had put the stopper on Tech guard Erick Green for much of the night.

Green ended up with 16 points -- only the third time this season he has failed to get into the 20s.

Green was averaging a national-best 25.2 points per game entering the night and had scored 30 in the first meeting between the two teams in Blacksburg on Jan. 30.

"I just thought Shane had a terrific all-around game," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "He was very good offensively scoring the ball and dishing the ball off. But he also was very good at guarding Erick Green.

"He held him in check in the first half, and then Erick kind of got it going in the second half."

Green got 10 of his points over the final 20 minutes, which started with the Hurricanes comfortably in front 38-19.

"They just did a really good job on him," Johnson said. "They stayed with him and trapped him off ball screens. They sent two guys at him. They just did a really good job on him defensively."

The victory moved the Hurricanes (23-4, 14-1) closer to their first regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title and within one win of tying a school record for single-season victories.

They can clinch the top seed in the conference tournament with a victory over Duke Saturday evening. The second-place Blue Devils are 11-3 in league play going into their game at Virginia on Thursday night.

Every other team in the conference has at least five league losses.

"It's just another game on the schedule," Larkin said of the game at Durham, which drew laughter from media at the postgame press conference.

"Umm," he said, "that's how you've got to approach it."

NOTES: Junior guard Rion Brown started for Miami in place of senior Durand Scott. It was Brown's sixth start for the season but first since the loss to Arizona on Dec. 23. Scott, who had started every game since serving a three-game suspension at the start of the season, did not start because of undisclosed disciplinary reasons, according to a school spokesperson. He entered the game at the first media timeout at the 15:50 mark of the first half. ... Scott, Larkin, Trey McKinney Jones, Kenny Kadji, and Julian Gamble had started the last 16 games for the Hurricanes. ... Guard Marquis Rankin started for Virginia Tech after missing the majority of the second half of the previous game against Florida State because of illness. ... With 23 victories, Miami is within one win of the school record for wins in a season. The 14 wins in ACC play are one short of the school record for conference wins in a season set in 1998-99 when the Hurricanes were in the Big East.
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