By AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Angel Rodriguez stood on the court, wearing each a large smile and the flag of his native Puerto Rico around his shoulders as he celebrated with Miami teammates.
It had all ended perfectly, from the Hurricanes wrapping up an impressive three-game show to claim the Puerto Rico Tipoff championship to Rodriguez being named the most outstanding player in his return to his hometown.
Rodriguez scored 19 points and Miami took down its second straight ranked opponent, beating No. 22 Butler 85-75 on Sunday evening — capping a week that created these Hurricanes look like a possible force in the Atlantic Coast Conference title chase.
When it was over, Miami — picked to finish fifth in the ACC — had shot at least 52 % and won each game by double figures whilst averaging 93 points.
“It is only November,” coach Jim Larranaga said. “Teams are going to get much better. The genuinely great teams are going to enhance substantially in between now and March. And we want to be a single of these teams. … Whether or not we’re ranked or not ranked is not the motivation.”
Ja’Quan Newton added a career-higher 17 points for the Hurricanes (five-), who followed their romp against No. 16 Utah by building a massive lead again, and then defending that benefit against a surge from Kellen Dunham and the Bulldogs.
Dunham scored 20 of his 23 right after halftime, helping Butler (three-1) trim a 19-point gap to four with about three 1/two minutes left. But the Hurricanes hit sufficient free of charge throws late to hang on, earning their second Tipoff title and very first given that beating Providence to win the inaugural occasion in 2007.
It was really a week for the Hurricanes in San Juan, which includes a homecoming for Rodriguez — a senior who grew up watching a nearby pro group play in this same arena before coming to the United States at age 15 to pursue a college scholarship.
“I know I’m going to go property extremely, extremely satisfied,” Rodriguez stated, “due to the fact God and the coaches and the university gave me an chance to come to my family so that everyone could see me at once.”
Roosevelt Jones finished with 19 points and was the only offense for considerably of the night for Butler, which shot 44 percent. But Dunham suddenly jolted awake after a 5-for-20 work in Friday’s win against Temple, assisting Butler climb back in it only to see the Hurricanes hold answering with important baskets of their personal.
“They have been just in some ways the hungrier, tougher group early,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “Our guys responded in a excellent way, but hard to do that against a great group. Anytime we got close they seemed to make a huge play.”
Butler: The Bulldogs created 8 of 18 3-point attempts. … Butler scored 16 points off turnovers. … Tyler Wideman had ten rebounds.
Miami: Tonye Jekiri had 12 points and 12 rebounds. … Miami finished with a 33-30 rebounding advantage. … The Hurricanes went 20 of 22 at the foul line right after halftime and 22 of 24 for the game
In addition to Rodriguez, Miami had Jekiri and Sheldon McClellan make the five-man all-Tipoff team. Butler’s Jones and Utah’s Jakob Poeltl, who had 32 points and 11 rebounds in the third-spot game against Temple, also made the squad.
Miami won last year’s Charleston Classic, only to return home and have property losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky. Rodriguez stated players were already bringing that up soon after winning Sunday evening.
“That to me is genuinely more unique than just merely winning this tournament,” he stated, “to know that the guys are hungry for much more.”
Butler hosts SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday.
Miami hosts Northeastern on Friday.
Adhere to Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org
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