The Miami University men’s basketball team extended its win streak to two games Saturday, knocking off James Madison University 76-58. The victory now puts Miami over the .500 mark with a 3-2 record for the season.
Freshman guard Reggie Johnson scored a career-high 21 points in the victory. This was the second game this season that Johnson was able to find his stroke, especially from beyond the arc.
“It kind of came as I went along,” Johnson said. “They went into that zone, so there were a lot of gaps and I was able to get a few early open looks that kind of got me going. I just came out and stayed aggressive and my teammates found me.”
Junior guard Quinten Rollins also had a big day, posting his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. The 10 assists are a career high for Rollins.
“Q [Rollins] has tried to figure out what I want from him,” Cooper said. “In the midst of trying to figure that out, I think it stymied his growth a little. I think he is beginning to figure it out. I tell him all the time that I don’t worry about his scoring. I know he’ll get his points. What impresses me is the assists. He was responsible for at least 30 points, and that’s a good thing for us.”
Miami had four players reach double figures in scoring. Junior forward Jon Harris finished the contest with 15, while redshirt junior forward Will Felder chipped in 12 points, equaling his season high.
The ‘Hawks shot a season best 49 percent from the floor, including a season best 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. The team emphasized execution as well as effort on the court, establishing the pace of the game.
The Red and White committed 23 fouls, resulting in 28 free throw attempts for the Dukes.
“We wanted to play with a lot of energy,” Harris said. “It was an early game, so we had to wake ourselves up. We have to get better at pressuring teams without fouling. The 28 free throw attempts kept [James Madison] in the game. I think as the season goes on, we’ll be better about that.”
The RedHawks got off to a fast start, building a nine-point lead before the Dukes found the bottom of the net. A strong inside presence and defense sprung Miami to a 16-4 lead less than five minutes into the contest. James Madison struggled on both ends of the court in the early going, reaching double digits on the scoreboard 12 minutes into the game.
“I give Miami all the credit in the world,” James Madison Head Coach Matt Brady said. “They played with superior energy and toughness for all 40 minutes.”
The RedHawk lead grew to as large as 19 points in the first 20 minutes of action, but the Dukes found a rhythm as the half wound down, mustering up offense and playing better defensively, as they forced Miami into several turnovers with their man defense and full court pressure. James Madison pulled to within eight points late in the half, but another Miami run pushed the lead to 11 at the break.
Despite the strong first half by Miami, Head Coach John Cooper had to find ways to get the best line-ups on the floor after redshirt junior forward Bill Edwards went down three minutes after tip-off on a fast break drive to the basket. Team doctors have determined Edwards suffered a knee injury, but are uncertain of specifics or severity. Edwards didn’t return to action. Cooper went to his bench, mixing various personnel on the court.
“When Bill [Edwards] went down, it threw a monkey wrench into rotations and how we would play,” Cooper said. “We started Bill and Jon (Harris) the last two games and we thought it would give us an opportunity to score points at multiple positions. I was just trying to get a feel for what was going on.”
The on point shooting and defensive intensity continued for Miami into the second half as well. James Madison made several short runs, but could not pull any closer than 10 points for the rest of the game.
Miami now starts a four-game road swing Dec. 1 at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).