Freshman leads Miami past Spalding University

OXFORD — Jackson Kotecki is showing signs of rounding into form at an opportune time for the Miami men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-9 freshman from Chicago scored 10 points in the RedHawks’ 90-60 loss at St. Bonaventure on Saturday before going 6-of-7 from the field, including 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, and finishing with a team-high 19 points in their 82-43 over NCAA Division III Spalding College on Tuesday

His contributions are particularly noteworthy with 6-8 senior Anderson Mirambeaux out with academic issues and 7-1 freshman Reece Potter sidelined with a hand injury.

“I’m just trying to keep it simple, like the coaches tell me,” Kotecki said. “It was more about my teammates. They were getting me the ball.

“I’m feeling more confident and comfortable. I’m just trying to play within myself. I trust my teammates to find me and get me the ball.”

“He’s getting better,” second-year Miami coach Travis Steele said. “He’s super-talented. When the game slows down for him, he’ll be really good. He’s got to rebound more. He’s come a long way in six games.”

Kotecki led four RedHawks in double figures. Freshman guard Mekhi Cooper scored 15 points and sophomore center Jaquel Morris and freshman wing player Eian Elmer each added 11 for the 3-3 RedHawks, who outrebounded the 0-4 Golden Eagles from Louisville, Kentucky, 54-30, while committing just 10 turnovers.

Miami freshmen combined to score 65 percent of the team’s points.

“We’re asking a lot of our freshmen,” Steele said. “Nobody plays freshmen. We’re throwing them into the fire. They’re going to make mistakes, but they’re talented.”

Spalding competes in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The RedHawks are schedule to play at Marshall on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the first of four straight road games. They are at Ohio State on Dec. 6, at Davidson on Dec.. 9 and at Wright State on Dec. 19 before returning home to face Vermont on Dec. 22 at 1 p.m.

“If you aspire to be those teams – if you aspire to be Vermont – you have to play them,” Steele said. “We’ll take it one game at a time. It’s challenging. It’ll be hard. They’re all hard games. We’ll play anybody anywhere. Our first (Mid-American Conference) road game is at Toledo. We’ll be ready.”

Spalding scored the first field goal of the second half with 19:41 left and didn’t score another one until 10:21 remained, opening the door for a 27-1 Miami run that sealed the deal for the RedHawks. They enjoyed advantages of 18-7 on points off turnovers, 40-18 on points in the paint, 16-3 on second-chance points and 29-2 on fast-break points.

Nine different players scored at least two points as the RedHawks led by as many as 16 points in the first half before settling for a 35-24 halftime lead over the NCAA Division III Golden Eagles from Louisville, Kentucky. Kotecki led Miami with eight points before halftime.

The RedHawks led, 11-0, while Spalding was missing its first six shots before scoring on a 3-pointer with 14:34 left in the first half. Miami outrebounded the Golden Eagles, 23-16, and outscored the Golden Eagles, 13-0, on fast break points before halftime.

“We got off to a good start,” Steele said, adding he subsequently noticed a bit of a letdown. “I told the team that they had to respect the game. We had a lot of zest early. The second half was much better.

“We showed a lot of toughness on the ball. We had a lot of ball pressure. (Freshman) Evan Ipsaro was pressuring the ball for all 94 feet. I was asking the other guys, ‘Does anybody else want to join the party?’”


Miami at Marshall, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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