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NIT blog: UM 78, Providence 66 (F)

PROVIDENCE -- We're definitely in the NIT. An ugly first half of basketball here from the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Ugly, but still kind of pretty for UM considering how this team looked last week against Virginia Tech.

Miami has a 33-28 lead at the break despite 12 first half turnovers. While the Canes have been sloppy handling the basketball, they've done a great job rebounding. 11 offensive rebounds have led to 12 second chance points. UM also has done a good job scoring in the paint. Jack McClinton still doesn't look like the old Jack McClinton, but he's at least got a bit of his three-point stroke back. He's got 9 points on 3 of 8 shooting to go with four boards.

The Canes should be up more, but Providence exposed their weakness -- the full court press -- right before the half. UM turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions to and the Friars went on a 6-0 run to cut into the Canes' 33-22 lead. If Miami can protect the basketball better and continue to rebound well, they've got a great shot of moving on.

By the way, I spoke with UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt -- who nearly didn't make it to tonight's game -- right before tipoff. I'll have my interview with him tomorrow. If UM wins, they'll play at Florida (assuming the Gators win) on Friday night.