PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Miami put the finishing touches on another rout, prompting a frustrated La Salle fan to scream from the bleachers, “Why don’t you give your starters a rest! You’re only up 40!”
Coach Jim Larranaga never wavered and let his rotation players stretch the lead a bit more.
“What are you, trying to set a record?!” the fan barked.
Trying or not, the Hurricanes did, humbling the Explorers to their worst defeat in program history
Ivan Cruz Uceda scored 20 points and Tonye Jekiri had 10 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 13 Miami to a 95-49 win over La Salle on Tuesday night.
Three seasons after a run to the Sweet 16, the Explorers suffered their worst loss in a program that started in the 1931-32 season.
The Hurricanes (10-1) won their fifth straight game and blew open the game with a 27-9 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Sheldon McClellan scored 14 points for the Hurricanes.
Ja’Quan Newton scored 10 points in his hometown return. Newton graduated Neumann-Gorretti in 2014 as the leading scorer in school and Catholic School League history with 1,972 points. Newton won four straight Catholic League championships, clinching all titles at the Palestra, site of Tuesday’s game.
He has one more reason to celebrate in Philadelphia.
“When I walked in here for shootaround and practice, I just looked around,” Newton said. “A lot of greats played here.”
With photos of stars ranging from Wilt Chamberlain to Kobe Bryant and coaches such as Roy Williams and Brad Stevens plastered all around the concourse walls, the Palestra has become as much a museum to Philly’s glorious basketball past as it is a court for games to be played on.
Larranaga had his graduate assistants make a 3-minute highlight video of great moments in Palestra history. The end of the highlight reel transitioned from a Bryant dunk, who played at nearby Lower Merion, to one from Newton during his high school career.
“I wanted to give the players an idea of what the city of Philadelphia is like, and the arena we play in,” Larranaga said. “A lot of our players have heard of Madison Square Garden. They’ve never really heard of the Palestra.”
Johnnie Schuler led the Explorers (4-5) with nine points.
Miami never flinched on the road and made short work of a La Salle team in a transition season under coach John Giannini.
“This loss has nothing to do with our players,” Giannini said. “This loss has to do with me not evaluating this team properly in the way I put it together.”
Uceda hit a 3 for a 20-11 lead and McClellan’s 3 attempt bounced high off the rim and plopped through the net to make it 27-15. McClellan opened the second half with a 3-pointer and the rout was on for the Hurricanes. Uceda hit four 3s.
Miami shot 50 percent in the first half (15 of 30) and the Explorers missed 8 of 10 3-pointers.
La Salle’s previous worst loss was a 42-point defeat against C.C.N.Y. on Dec 15, 1945.
“I’m going to have a real hard time living with myself the next three months,” Giannini said. “Injuries didn’t do this. Rebuilding didn’t do this. I did this. I know when people’s teams don’t do well, they like to be angry at the cause. Anyone has every right to be angry with me at putting this team together the way I did.”
Miami: The Hurricanes are 7-9 against La Salle in a series first played in the 1950-51 season. … Larranaga’s Miami teams have scored 85 or more points 19 times in 151 games, including eight this season. … The final score was Miami’s largest lead of the game.
La Salle: Jordan Price, who entered sixth in the nation in scoring at 24.6 points, scored only six points on 2 of 11 shooting. … The Explorers had been 6-0 against Miami at the Palestra. … La Salle has played at least one game at the Palestra, home of Penn basketball, the last five seasons.
HIT THE BOARDS
Led by Jekiri, Miami held a 51=24 rebounding edge. Kamari Murphy had 10 for the Hurricanes and Uceda grabbed six.
Miami hosts Princeton on Dec. 29.
La Salle plays Dec. 31 at Florida Gulf Coast
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