This time, there was no need for overtime.
The University of Miami men’s basketball team took care of business in regulation for the first time in three games. Newcomers James Kelly and Donnavan Kirk helped the Canes recover from a slow start, and the Canes rolled to an 84-69 win over Texas Southern.
Kelly, a junior college transfer, led UM (2-1) with 17 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes. He was 7 of 11 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range. Kirk, back at UM for his final year of eligibility after starting here and transferring to DePaul, had 15 points. Kelly and Kirk are both natives of Michigan, Kelly from Ann Arbor and Kirk from Detroit.
Six Canes finished in double figures, and the team combined for 21 assists and 12 steals. Senior Rion Brown nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Freshman guard Manu Lecomte added 12 points, Davon Reed had 11 and Garrius Adams added 10.
Texas Southern led 12-0 early, but UM cut down on errors and took control.
“I was very concerned when we were behind 12-0,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said.
“We had three shots blocked, an air ball and a few bad shots. But I’m very, very happy with our balance, six guys in double figures, and 21 assists on 35 baskets.”
The coach praised freshmen Reed and Lecomte, who were first-half catalysts. They made back-to-back three three-pointers to help open up a 30-22 lead. The Hurricanes led 44-32 at halftime, and were ahead by 24 with just less than 10 minutes to go.
Kelly, a 6-7, 246-pound forward, was impressive with his moves around the basket and his perimeter shooting. Larrañaga said he recruited Kelly because of his athletic ability and shooting touch, especially his left and right jump hooks.
He increased his bench press from 215 pounds to 315 pounds since arriving on campus.
“My teammates really helped me,” Kelly said of his production.
Brown said the Canes were determined not to have a third overtime game.
“We’re probably the only Division I team in the country that had two overtimes already,’’ Brown said. “It’s nice to get out early.’’
Texas Southern (2-1) was led by Aaric Murray (16 points) and Ray Penn (15).
UM sophomore center Tonye Jekiri went down with an apparent knee injury with four minutes to go in the first half and had to be helped off the court and into the locker room. He didn’t return to the game.
Larrañaga said he had “no clue’’ what happened to Jekiri and will wait for a report from the trainer.
The Canes are on the road at College of Charleston on Monday and back home against UCF on Nov. 21.