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McClinton, Miami hold off Kentucky

Dec 7, 2008 - 3:38 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Even with sharpshooter Jack McClinton on the court, Miami nearly blew a big second-half lead for the second consecutive game.

McClinton, for his part, scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half and the 22nd-ranked Hurricanes held off a late rally from Kentucky en route to a 73-67 victory on Saturday.

James Dews added 18 points as the Hurricanes (5-2) knocked down seven 3-pointers in the opening half to jump out to a 46-26 edge at halftime.

Patrick Patterson had 19 points and 16 rebounds and DeAndre Liggins added 19 and nine for Kentucky, which cut a 20-point halftime deficit to four midway through the second half but would get no closer.

"In the first half, offensively we were very good and in the second half we just missed some shots and we lost some of our rhythm," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "Down the stretch, we missed a lot of free throws and normally we are a very good free throw shooting team. I felt like our guys hung in there and made the tough plays in a hostile environment."

McClinton had been ejected from Miami's previous game - a 73-68 loss to Ohio State - after taking a swing at Buckeyes guard Anthony Crater midway through the first half.

The Hurricanes led, 19-7, at the time and held a 36-22 advantage at halftime. But Ohio State outscored Miami, 51-32, in the second 20 minutes to record the comeback win.

"I apologize for my actions and that wasn't me," McClinton said of the incident against Ohio State. "I wanted to come out and start from where I left off in the last game. We came out with a victory and it feels great."

Kentucky nearly duplicated the feat, holding Miami scoreless for over seven minutes and using a 23-7 run to cut the deficit to four at 58-54.

"I think we came out too flat the second half," Dews said. "Kentucky is a great team. They are a team that makes runs. They came out poised and ready to play the second half. A team like Kentucky isn't going to stay down the whole game."

But the Wildcats were unable to take advantage of suspect free-throw shooting from the Hurricanes, as Miami converted just 6-of-14 from the line in the final 1:35.

Kentucky's leading scorer, Jodie Meeks, made just 4-of-17 from the field, including 2-of-12 on 3-pointers. His teammates did not fare any better from deep, going 0-of-11 from behind the arc as the Wildcats shot 36 percent (25-70) from the field.

"There was a big difference in effort and execution," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said of the two halves. "We started doing what we were supposed to be doing. We started enforcing our will instead of letting Miami dictate the game in our own gym. It was a matter of effort and more concentration and carrying out assignments."

The Hurricanes shot 52 percent (16-of-31) in the first half, sparked by McClinton and Dews, who scored 14 points on 4-of-5 from three in the opening half.