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Courtside blog: UConn 76, UM 63 (F)

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands -- Just got to the University of the Virgin Islands Arena and I'm watching the Canes warm-up for their showdown with No. 2 Connecticut in less than an hour. The game will be carried on Fox College Sports back home. Not sure how many of U have it. But if you do, you'll get to watch this one. If not, tune into 880 AM (WQAM has Dolphins programming) for the radio broadcast. Joe Zagacki and Josh Darrow will have the call as usual.

Paradise_jamOn the ride in, I sat next to Jack McClinton Sr., who said he thinks his son is in for a big game tonight. Apple Jacks hasn't been been playing like the Jack we saw in the final eight games of last season, when opponents were getting lit up like a Christmas tree. Jack Sr. told me he thinks is son is pressing a little bit, especially since he knows so many NBA Scouts are now keeping a close eye on him.

There's talk from within Jack could be a late first round pick with a solid senior season -- especially after the way he lit up guys over the summer at several camps hosted by guys like Steve Nash and Lebron James. Jack_mcclintonJack Sr. said Haith has been trying to get Jack to tone down his game a little since then because he's still playing like he's facing guys in those camps, trying to throw in extra moves to create separation when he already has it. Jack Sr. said his son is really trying to hone his mid-range game and his ability to draw even more fouls by getting eager defenders up in the air. Nevertheless, Mr. McClinton thinks his son and the team are going to deliver tonight.

So, too, do a few of the Huskies beat writers, who say Miami has impressed them with their depth and focus. While Miami was in its hotel room most of the day yesterday -- I'm on the same hotel floor with the team, UConn was enjoying the beach yesterday on its day off. Not, that there is anything with enjoying the beach on your day off (especially with a Pina Colada like I did). But it just shows you how intense Miami is taking this game. "I think they can win by eight," one UConn beat writer told me moments ago. "They look like a very good basketball team. Collins is terrific. McClinton is a great player. They are just flat out deeper than UConn. If Hasheem [Thabeet] plays like he did against LaSalle, Miami can win by 15."

> By the way, those Jai Lucas to UM rumors are way unfounded. Lucas is likely headed to the Big 12. Miami has its heart set on having Malcolm Grant run this team in the future. The only way he doesn't is if John Wall ends up here.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS...
> UConn has come out with some serious intensity early. Looks like they are taking this game seriously, too. Hasheem Thabeet came out and scored right away on a jump hook and then got a put back down low. Cyrus McGowan hit a three-pointer to trim UConn's lead to 8-7 with 18:06 left, but the Huskies have been on a 6-0 run since. Miami is 3-of-9 from the field and UConn is 7-of-10. They are scoring a ton of points in the paint, driving past Miami defenders for close-range shots.

> It's 80-plus degrees outside. But the Miami Hurricanes are ice cold right now. It's been nearly seven minutes since Cyrus McGowan scored UM's last points. The Canes have gone 0-for-5 from three-point range since McGowan's miss. Jack McClinton still hasn't scored. Miami is 3-for-19 and UConn is 9-for-13 from the field and on a 12-0 run.

> I feel like I'm watching a replay of Thursday night's football game. It's now 24-7 UConn with 10:24 left.

> The first highlight of DeQuan Jones college career appears to have finally jump started Miami's offense. Jones got a screen from Dwayne Collins, drove baseline and made a beautiful up and under reverse layup Hasheem Thabeet had no chance of swatting. The Canes followed it up with a wide open Jack McClinton three-pointer to trim the Huskies lead to 24-13 before AJ Price with a three-pointer with 8:03 left in the first half.

> The Canes are clawing and scratching their way back into this one. UConn stretched its lead to 33-14 on an AJ Price three-pointer, its third consecutive trey. McClinton has since gone on a 6-0 run over a 2-plus minute stretch to keep it reasonable.

> This one is officially far from over. Jack McClinton is hot and firing on all cylinders now. His three-pointer with 1:18 left has capped a 17-2 Miami run which has trimmed UConn's lead to 35-31.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS/THOUGHTS...
> UConn has come out with some fire on defense here early in the second half and its help them extend their lead back out to double digits with 15:07 left to play.

> The game is now in control of the Huskies at 58-45 with 11:53 left. Miami is going to need someone other than McClinton to get hot here if it wants to have a chance at coming back.

> The stage is pretty much set here with 5:31 left for another one of those memorable Jack McClinton moments. He just hit a three with 5:31 left to trim UConn's lead to 69-59. Is this the start of something special?

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