for this game

McClinton propels Miami past St. Mary's

Mar 21, 2008 - 9:26 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Ticker) -- When his team needed it, Jack McClinton came through.

McClinton scored 32 of his career-high 38 points in the second half as seventh-seeded Miami cruised to a 78-64 victory over No. 10 St. Mary's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's South Regional on Friday.

Jimmy Graham and James Dews each added nine points for the Hurricanes (23-10), who will face second seed Texas on Sunday.

With two minutes left in the first half, the Gaels led by six and McClinton had just two points. McClinton began to heat up before the break, though, knocking down a pair of buckets in the final two minutes.

"Throughout the whole game they were really playing me for my shot," McClinton said. "Once I got a couple of drives, the defense was kind of on their heels."

St. Mary's still took a 32-27 advantage into the locker room, but McClinton took over in the second half.

"I thought we were a little stagnant in the first half offensively," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "Second half we got going, we were a little more patient with our offense and we got some buckets in transition. I thought that was key for us. And a big part of that was getting defensive stops consistently."

McClinton's three-point play helped Miami quickly tie the contest at 33-33 with 18:12 remaining. The junior guard, who finished 12-of-18 from the floor, then scored 11 points as the Hurricanes went on a 21-8 burst to take a 54-41 lead with 11:21 to play.

"(In the) second half I was just trying to be more aggressive," McClinton said.

"First half defensively, we did pretty good - kept McClinton in check," St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "That's all we really talked about at halftime - McClinton was going to try to win this game for them. The way that we started the second half really jeopardized our chances of winning that game."

The Gaels (25-7) would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Freshman Patrick Mills had 24 points and five assists and Diamon Simpson added 11 rebounds for St. Mary's, which shot just 37 percent (22-of-59) from the field.

"It was a great experience to play in a game like this," Mills said. "Being told that there's no mediocre team in the tournament."