Balanced No. 12 Miami handles Georgia in Bahamas


Matthew Cleveland scored a game-high-tying 18 points as No. 12 Miami defeated Georgia on Friday afternoon in the first round of the Baha Mar Championships in Nassau, Bahamas.

In Sunday’s championship game of the four-team invitational, Miami (4-0) will play the winner of Kansas State and Providence. Georgia (2-2) will play in the consolation game, also on Sunday.

The Bulldogs were led by freshman reserve Blue Cain (team-high and career-high 18 points), Niagara transfer Noah Thomasson (14 points) and Jabri Abdur-Rahim (13 points).

But the Bulldogs shot just 36.7 percent from the floor, 9-for-31 on 3-pointers (29.0 percent); and 14-of-22 on free throws (63.6 percent).

Miami — which made it to the Final Four last season — got all five starters in double-figure scoring. The Hurricanes got contributions from Nijel Pack (16 points), Wooga Poplar (13 points, game-high 11 rebounds), Bensley Joseph (13 points, six rebounds, three assists) and Norchad Omier (11 points, six rebounds).

Georgia went scoreless for the game’s first 3:37, falling behind by five points. But then Cain entered the game and scored seven straight points, sparking a 10-0 run that gave Georgia a 19-11 lead with 11:03 left in the first half.

Miami, though, countered with a 21-6 stretch to take a 39-29 lead into halftime. Georgia did not score a field goal over the final 5:25 of the half. Both teams shot below 36 percent in the first half, but Miami had a 10-0 advantage on points off turnovers.

Blue led Georgia with 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting. Miami’s Cleveland led all first-half scorers with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

Omier left the game in the first minute of the second half as he got charged with his third foul. The Hurricanes, however, stretched their lead to 20 points at 64-44 with 8:51 left.

Georgia never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.