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College hoops: Miami hands Charlotte 49ers first loss

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Miami had a big week capped by the Charleston Classic title. Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga hopes it leads to even bigger things this season.

Sheldon McClellan had 19 points and Manu Lecomte had 15 as Miami cruised to a 77-58 victory over Charlotte to win their second Charleston title in five years. The week began with the Hurricanes ending No. 8 Florida’s 33-game home win streak, 69-67.

“This team is very, very skilled at a number of different positions,” Larranaga said. “And they showed that in this tournament.”

And perhaps showed they’ll be a factor in the Atlantic Coast Conference, just as they were two years ago when they won the league championship.

“It’s a great win for us and gives us a lot of confidence,” McClellan said. “We’re going to celebrate this tonight. But we’re going to get better each game. We’re not going to enjoy this for the rest of the season.”

The Hurricanes (5-0) took this title in 2009, winning three games by an average of 14 points. It was an even more dominant run this time, topping Drexel 66-46 then Akron 79-51 before the cruising past the 49ers (3-1).

Miami took control with a 31-12 run that started in the last four minutes of the opening half and stretched well into the second period. McClellan scored nine of his points in the surge where the Hurricanes built a 59-42 lead.

Charlotte had won eight straight in-season tournament games the past three seasons. Its chances of continuing the streak took a hit when leading scorer Braxton Ogbueze hurt his right leg in the first half and did not return.

Mike Thorne Jr. had 19 points to lead Charlotte.

“I thought we had a few plays there where we got in a little bit of rush as opposed to making them guard us and test their defense a little bit,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said.

The Hurricanes finished with five players in double figures. Tournament MVP Angel Rodriguez had 13 points, James Palmer had 12 and Tonye Jekiri had 11 points as Miami led by as many as 23 points down the stretch.

McClellan added eight rebounds and three assists.

Miami was looking to keep its stellar play in Charleston going while Charlotte wanted to improve its win streak in regular-season tournaments.

The Hurricanes won both games here to reach the final game in easy fashion, 66-46 over Drexel and 79-51 over Akron. Charlotte has won eight straight in-season tournament games after winning three apiece on the way to winning the Great Alaska Shootout in 2012 and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off crown last season.

The 49ers run to the final at TD Arena was a bit more grueling. They squandered a 17-point lead only to outlast Penn State in double overtime 106-97 on Thursday night. Against South Carolina on Friday, Charlotte rallied from 12 down to move on with a 65-63 win.

Neither the Hurricanes nor the 49ers could break on top much of the first half until Miami closed the period with a 10-3 run. James Palmer hit both his 3-pointers in the stretch as the Hurricanes moved in front 38-31 at the break.

Do-it-all point guard Rodriguez struggled shooting in the first half, making only one of six shots he tried.

Ogbueze, in his first season after transferring from Florida, was in pain on the floor as trainers came out to tend to his right knee. Ogbueze iced down the injury, but soon was stretching and jogging as if he hoped to return. But trainers put the ice bag back on when the game got out of hand.

Major did not have an update on Ogbueze’s condition and said the sophomore would be examined Monday after the team was back on campus.

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