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Miami coach says McClinton was reacting to being hit

Miami coach Frank Haith was even more angered Wednesday morning after reviewing the game tape of senior guard Jack McClinton's ejection from Tuesday night's loss to Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Haith, however, took some solace Thursday when told by the ACC that McClinton will not be suspended for the flagrant foul. McClinton will play at Kentucky on Saturday.

McClinton, a first-team all-ACC guard and the Hurricanes' leading scorer (15.2 points per game), was ejected midway through the first half for slapping Ohio State guard Anthony Crater in the face.

A review of the game tape shows that McClinton, who had the ball and was standing in front of Ohio State's bench, was reacting to Crater swiping at him. Crater covered his face for a moment after the contact and remained in the game.

"After watching the tape I was disappointed and I felt that Jack reacted to being hit in the face,'' Haith said. "I was told by the official, Bryan Kersey, that [Crater] had bloodied his nose and that's why Jack was ejected. I never saw any blood. The kid stayed in the game. Jack was reacting to being hit in the face.''

Minus McClinton, the Hurricanes extended their lead and were up by 14 at the half. Still, Miami was limited in the second half without McClinton and suspended guard Eddie Rios, who was held out of the game due to a violation of team rules. That left Lance Hurdle as the lone ball handler; Hurdle played 37 minutes, while McClinton played just eight.

Miami ended up letting its lead slip away and lost 73-68.

Haith said he is under the assumption that since McClinton was ejected for a flagrant foul and not for fighting that he wouldn't be suspended for the next game. But he said he was told by ACC associate commissioner Karl Hicks, who was in attendance Tuesday, that he would review tape Wednesday to determine if there was malicious intent worthy of a one-game suspension.

The home loss was critical for a Miami team trying to make a case for itself in nonconference play and return to the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The Hurricanes, who lost to Connecticut in the Paradise Jam last week, still have two more nonconference "name" games on the road: at Kentucky on Saturday and at St. John's on Dec. 27.

Haith is concerned that future opponents could try to bait McClinton.

"Jack is a great kid and I don't see that being an issue with Jack, but I do worry how other teams may try to antagonize him, physically taunting him,'' Haith said. "Jack does have to be smarter and play with more composure. He's just got to play.''

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.