The Miami RedHawks achieved something this weekend that Duke phenom Zion Williamson and the rest of his highly-touted Blue Devil teammates failed to do.
While Duke beat Army 94-72 at home on Nov. 11, Miami trounced the Black Knights by an even-greater 30 points (85-55) at Millett Hall on Saturday.
“Army was definitely a challenging team coming in,” head coach Jack Owens said. “Watching the Duke game, they [the Black Knights] played extremely well. They shot the ball well. This was definitely a game that we had to be up for.”
Owens’ RedHawks were up for it. The game was never close after they took a 9-7 lead just before the 16-minute mark and held control the rest of the way.
While Miami (3-3) might not be able to contend with no. 3 Duke, it took a step in the right direction.
Against Army, the ’Hawks finally played their signature brand of athletic, defense-first basketball which they couldn’t consistently find during their first five games.
“Yeah, that’s probably accurate,” Owens said when asked if Saturday’s win was his team’s most complete game of the season. “When you’re talking about everyone contributed to the win, it was a total team effort. I thought everyone played well and carried out their assignments.”
The victory started with stifling defense and was punctuated with high-flying offense.
After allowing 73 or more points in four of their first five games, Miami needed to shore up the defensive side of the court. It did that by allowing Army just 55 points. The effort was reminiscent of last season, when the RedHawks allowed 73-plus points only 13 times in 34 games.
The Black Knights shot a measly 34.4 percent from the field compared to Miami’s 48.5 percent clip.
That solid shooting percentage continued the RedHawks’ positive offensive trend. They’ve scored at least 70 points in all but one game this season (when they fell two points short of that mark at Butler) after reaching it in only half of their contests last season.
A concern coming into the season, Miami’s big men stepped up once again.
Junior forward Bam Bowman and sophomore forward Dalonte Brown tied for a game-high 18 points. Bowman is healthy after starting the season with a right foot injury, while Brown has taken a developmental leap from last season. He’s more than doubled his scoring output from eight points per game a year ago to 17.5 points a game this season.
Those two players, along with redshirt senior forward Aleks Abrams, combined for 26 of the RedHawks’ 48 rebounds — a number that bested Army’s total by 14.
And while Miami doesn’t play Duke this season, the team’s tough schedule continues. The ’Hawks travel to Xavier on Wednesday evening.
Xavier — a no. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament — has struggled to replace now-Louisville head coach Chris Mack and a plethora of seniors from last season. Still loaded with talent and expectations, the Musketeers have stumbled to a 3-3 start and will look to replicate what Miami did on Saturday by getting back to their brand of basketball.
“Just a great game for us,” Owens said. “I’m excited about it for our guys. It’s just another experience that is going to help us in league play because, when you have to go into another sold-out venue, you’ve got to learn from the mistakes that got us early in the year. I think our guys are going to understand that.”
Wednesday’s game will emanate from the Cintas Center in Cincinnati on FS1. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Correction: This story originally called the “Black Knights” the “Golden Knights.” It was updated for accuracy at 10 a.m. on Nov. 28, 2018.