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Miami jammed by Marquette's traffic in D.C.

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Hurricanes look lost in rout by Golden Eagles

After spending 14 years at George Mason, Jim Larranaga knows all too well about traffic in the D.C. area. But Thursday was a reminder as his new team, the Miami Hurricanes, needed 45 minutes to make the mile-and-a-half trip from its Dupont Circle hotel to Verizon Center.

And so it went later in the evening as second-seeded Miami never got in sync on offense in a 71-61 loss to No. 3 Marquette.

"We had to go on nine different streets, weaving in and out, traffic and everything," Larrananga said. "And that's kind of the way it seemed on the court. Trying to find our way, we never could."

For a Miami program that used to reside in the Big East, Thursday also was a rude reminder of the rugged style that predominates in the conference.

With Marquette overplaying, denying passes and trapping the ball, the offense of Miami never had an answer. Shooting 34.9 percent from the floor, Miami fell behind early and never made a run. The final score was little indication of the dominance of the Golden Eagles, who limited the Hurricanes to a season-low 16 points in the first half, then extended their lead to 51-30 midway through the second period.

Marquette's strategy was to limit the ability of All-ACC guard Shane Larkin to operate. The sophomore, who had 14 points and four assists, made a habit of running circles around ACC defenders but got little daylight going against Marquette's Junior Cadougan and Derrick Wilson.

"It was difficult. They were taking Shane away from the offense. He's a key player on our team," senior guard Durand Scott said. "I don't think it was any surprise. They played it well. I think the best team won tonight."

The Hurricanes' anemic offense wasn't the product of cold shooting. The Golden Eagles contested every shot, every pass and many of the dribbles. Larranaga dismissed the notion Miami was taken by surprise.

"We just didn't have it tonight. We didn't have the juice to play great basketball," Larranaga said. "I think they're very similar to the teams we faced in our league -- tough defensively, tough inside and they rebound very well, attack the rim very well. I would have liked for us to play our normal game to really see how good we both were. But we didn't have it tonight."

The Hurricanes missed 6-foot-10, 292-pound Reggie Johnson, who was out with a knee injury. His presence would have assisted the Hurricanes' efforts to guard 6-8, 290-pound Davante Gardner (14 points, four rebounds).

Miami also could have used an up-to-par Larkin. The point guard said he woke up at 2 a.m. Thursday morning throwing up. He didn't eat until the pregame meal at 3 p.m.

"I don't know what it was," Larkin said. "There's no excuses."

According to Larkin, Miami knew what was coming. In a win over Illinois, the Hurricanes faced a similar defense, which trapped off-ball screens.

"Against Illinois we moved the ball. We found the open shooter, and they knocked it down. Tonight we just didn't knock down those shots," Larkin said. "We lost that game. I don't think we got beat like that. We lost that game."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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