CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami Hurricanes freshman Dewan Huell learned the day before Wednesday's game against Rutgers that he would be making his first collegiate start.
"I went to sleep happy," he said, "and woke up even happier."
Huell was still smiling after the game. The 6-foot-11 Miami native had 14 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes, and the Hurricanes scored 17 consecutive points in the second half to beat previously undefeated Rutgers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, 73-61.
With more than 20 friends and relatives in the crowd, Huell scored in double figures for the fifth time this season and had a couple of baskets worthy of video replays.
"I was very impressed with Dewan's acrobatic, athletic ability to score near the rim," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Huell had five offensive rebounds. Another freshman, Bruce Brown, had nine rebounds and 11 points, including a 3-point play with less than two minutes left to stop a late Rutgers run.
Teammate Davon Reed totaled 18 points and six rebounds for Miami (5-2), which bounced back from consecutive losses last week.
The Scarlet Knights (6-1) had been off to their best start since their Final Four season in 1975-76, but they hadn't faced a team with the Hurricanes' talent.
"Are we ready for this kind of game?" Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. "Probably not."
The Scarlet Knights came into the game third in the nation in rebounding margin, but the Hurricanes outrebounded them 44-30.
"The emphasis to this game was to rebound the ball," Brown said. "We just wanted it more."
Rutgers trailed by 15 points early, rallied to within 36-32 and then went nine minutes without a point. The Scarlet Knights went 0 for 11 with five turnovers during the drought while Miami pulled out to a 53-32 lead.
The Hurricanes took leads of 15-4 and 25-10, and then scored two points over the next eight minutes while committing a flurry of turnovers that allowed the Scarlet Knights to climb back into the game.
Miami led 34-28 at halftime.
Rutgers: Rutgers was outrebounded 14-2 in the first 10 minutes. The Hurricanes grabbed 15 of the 32 rebounds when they missed a shot.
"Their length bothered us," Pikiell said. "That team is as good a rebounding team as we're going to face."
Before the game, Larranaga stressed Rutgers' rebounding ability.
"We made a strong emphasis to the team that if we don't rebound, we're not going to be in the game," he said.
Miami: The Hurricanes are especially young and inexperienced inside, but Huell showed his potential to provide a foundation for the future.
His most impressive play might have been a graceful, high-flying layup leading a fast break for a 49-32 lead. He also drove the baseline from the left corner for a dunk, prompting a big cheer from the small crowd.
"I like the breakaway layup to show my ball-handling skills," Huell said.
The Rutgers coach was among those impressed.
"Huell, I love him," Pikiell said. "He's going to be terrific."
It was another strong defensive effort by the Hurricanes, who came into the game ranked 12th in scoring defense at 58.7 points per game. Mike Williams led Rutgers with 16 points off the bench in 19 minutes.
The Hurricanes had nine assists and 19 turnovers.
"It really should be the opposite," Larranaga said. "We're a little young and don't have team chemistry on offense yet."
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights return home to play Morgan State on Saturday.
Miami: All six of the Hurricanes' games in December will be in South Florida, beginning Saturday against Wofford.