Win Braswell, Senior Staff Writer

Junior forward John Harris fights for one of his eight rebounds against Grambling State University. The 80-54 victory marked the first win for Head Coach John Cooper at Miami University. (Lauren Olson | The Miami Student)

In a battle of two teams looking for their first wins of the 2012 season, the Miami University men’s basketball team trounced Grambling State University 80-54 in its home opener on Tuesday night in record setting fashion. The RedHawks are now 1-1 on the year.

The ‘Hawks set a new school record for steals in a game with 22. The previous mark was 18. Junior guard Quinten Rollins tied the school record for steals in a single game with seven.

The RedHawks capitalized on Grambling’s miscues, scoring 47 points on 32 turnovers.

“We were very careless with the ball,” Grambling State Head Coach Joseph Price said. “Miami had a tremendous press, along with talent, speed and quickness, and we don’t have a lot of back court help, so it’s difficult… When you turn the ball over 32 times, you’re not going to win. We didn’t give ourselves a fair chance to win.”

Freshman guard Reggie Johnson led the offensive attack; scoring a team high 20 points.

“We talked about moving the ball and hitting the open man,” Johnson said. “I just happened to be at the end of a lot of those open passes.”

Miami ended up with five players scoring in double figures, a stark contrast to just one double figure performance against N.C. State.

“We played well, from an effort standpoint,” Head Coach John Cooper said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, but I liked the effort. We got some confidence in the second half from our defense, and it led to some easy buckets. It becomes contagious, when you see shots going in, defense becomes easier to play.”

The RedHawks improved their free throw percentage from their first game, connecting on 71 percent of their attempts in comparison to just 61 percent.

Miami jumped out to a quick start, playing up-tempo, and building a seven-point lead less than three minutes into the game. Despite the ‘Hawks’ hot start, Grambling crawled back into the game with on point shooting, especially from beyond the arc.

After the Tigers took a 19-13 lead, Miami’s pressure defense took effect, causing a slew of turnovers that sparked a 14-0 run by the RedHawks. Miami held a 27-23 lead heading into the half, in large part to 17 Grambling State turnovers, 12 of which were steals.

“We didn’t hang our heads at all,” Rollins said. “We ended up getting some solid traps. We just wanted to keep up the ball pressure and make tough plays, and it transitioned to offense. A lot of good teams use their defense as their offense, and that’s what we did.”

After the break, The Tigers held Miami scoreless until the 17:22 mark, when Miami’s defense clamped down for good. The ‘Hawks forced turnover after turnover, while going on a 27-0 run that spring boarded the `Hawks to a 56-37 lead.

Miami held the Tigers scoreless for nearly seven minutes, and held them to just 13 points over the final nine minutes of action.

Miami will now face another difficult test; traveling to Louisville, Ky. to take on the No. 2 University of Louisville Cardinals 4 p.m. Sunday. Louisville started its 2012 campaign with a 28-point victory over Manhattan University.

The Cardinals are a very deep team, as most Rick Pitino squads are, returning four key players from last season’s final four bid. Louisville lost to eventual national champion and archrival University of Kentucky 69-61.

Miami will have to find ways to stop senior guard Peyton Siva, who presents quickness and the ability to penetrate defenses for high percentage shots as well as junior guard Russ Smith, junior center Gorgui Dieng and sophomore forward Chane Behanan.

Miami is 0-3 vs. Louisville all time.