Angel Rodriguez scored 19 points, and the University of Miami took down its second consecutive ranked opponent, beating No. 22 Butler 85-75 on Sunday night for the Puerto Rico Tipoff championship.
Ja’Quan Newton added a career-high 17 points for the Hurricanes (5-0), who followed their romp against No. 16 Utah by building a big lead again, and then protecting that advantage against a big scoring burst from Kellen Dunham and the Bulldogs.
Dunham scored 20 of his 23 after halftime, helping Butler (3-1) trim a 19-point gap to four with about 3 1/2 minutes left. But the Hurricanes made enough free throws late to hang on, earning their second Tipoff title and first since beating Providence to win the inaugural event in 2007.
It was quite a week for the Hurricanes in San Juan, from their three-game run to the homecoming for Rodriguez —who grew up watching a local pro team play in this same arena.
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Rodriguez was named the Tipoff’s Most Outstanding Player, an honor he received while wearing the flag of his native Puerto Rico draped around his shoulders.
Miami entered the season expecting to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a veteran squad that won 25 games, blew out eventual national champion Duke in its famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium and reached the NIT championship game last year.
With four seniors in the starting lineup, Miami was picked fifth in the league — the same position it had when it won the regular-season and ACC tournament titles in 2013 — behind No. 1 North Carolina, No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Virginia and No. 18 Notre Dame.
After the Hurricanes’ showing in San Juan, they have the look of a team that will be a major force in that title chase.
Miami shot 52 percent, the latest in a series of hot-shooting performances that are turning into a habit. The Hurricanes also scored 19 points off turnovers, part of a formula that has worked so well to start the season.
Roosevelt Jones finished with 19 points and was the only offense for much of the night for Butler, which shot 44 percent. But Dunham suddenly woke up after a 5-for-20 effort in Friday’s win against Temple, helping Butler climb back in it.
Tonye Jekiri had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who finished with a 33-30 rebounding advantage.