UM Hoops: News & Notes (1/17)

It was only two games into conference play, but Miami could have already reached a turning point for its season.

The Hurricanes lost their first two ACC games to fall into an early hole, but both losses were on the road against two of the stronger teams in the league.
Virginia is one of the better teams in the league and gave the Blue Devils fits at Duke in its next game after hanging on to the one-point win over the Hurricanes.
North Carolina is, of course, the conference favorite, though that role may be somewhat shaky following the beating the Tar Heels took at Tallahassee, against Florida State.
So there is no reason for the Hurricanes to throw in the towel. The opportunity is there to make up some ground, but they couldn't afford to let their next two games get away.
The Hurricanes were home for both of them, hosting Clemson and North Carolina State.
Both games certainly were in the "winnable" category -- and not ones a team hoping to finish in the upper half of the standings, and make the NCAA field, like Miami -- could afford to lose.
Adding to the urgency is the fact the Hurricanes will be back on the road for their next two games the next week, playing at Georgia Tech and at Boston College, to finish the month of January.

--At 0-2, Miami was in a familiar place in the ACC standings. The Hurricanes have had problems getting out of the gate fast in recent years when league play begins.
Last season, they were 1-6 in January, and the year before, they were 2-5 going into February. They finished those seasons with records of 6-10 and 4-12, respectively.
Since beginning play in the ACC in the 2004-05 season, the Hurricanes were only 19-33 in league games in the months of December and January, entering this week. They entered February with a winning record only once. They were 5-3 in the 2005-06 season but finished only 7-9 in the league.
They managed to break even at 4-4 early in their first season in the league, but ended up only 7-9.
--One cause for concern about the loss to North Carolina was the Hurricanes' lack of competitiveness. The final margin was only 17 points, but it was a 15-point difference at halftime and the Hurricanes never challenged from the midpoint of the first half on.
They made 17 turnovers and only three of their 16 three-point attempts.
Poor play from the veteran guards was one failure, but there were problems upfront as well. North Carolina dominated the boards by 16 rebounds.
--Miami freshman G Shane Larkin did get one bit of good news in the midst of the team's defeats. His dad, Barry, the former Cincinnati Reds shortstop, was elected to the Hall of Fame. The announcement came the day before Miami's loss at North Carolina.
"Everybody was saying this was definitely the year, so it was more of an anxious feeling for me," Shane said about his father's election. "I couldn't wait for the announcement because I knew this was the year."
BY THE NUMBERS: 24.2 -- Miami was only 8-of-33 from three-point range (24.2 percent) in its first two league games after shooting 39.0 percent from behind the arc in non-conference play.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Whether you're either a player or a coach, you want to play against the best and coach against the best. When you play in the ACC or coach in the ACC, that's exactly what you have to do, and you have to do it every single night." -- First-year Miami coach Jim Larranaga, on his first ventures into ACC competition.

--vs. Clemson, Jan. 18
KEY MATCHUPS: G Andre Young is a threat on the perimeter and F Devin Booker is a threat inside for the Tigers. The Tigers have been inconsistent, especially on the road, as evidenced by a 20-point win over Florida State at home and a two-point loss at Boston College on the road in their next game.
--vs. North Carolina State, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack was still finding its way under first-year coach Mark Gottfried, who was dealing the depth issues. Junior G Scott Wood was the leading three-point shooter in the league (43.3 percent) through the weekend, and F Richard Howell was having a monster season on the boards, averaging 9.3 at that point.
FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore F Raphael Akpejiori's role had diminished since the return of C Reggie Johnson. Akpejiori made a brief appearance in the loss at North Carolina, playing two minutes at the end. He had two points and a rebound. Over the last six games through Sunday, which coincided with Johnson's return, Akpejiori played in only three for a total of five minutes. He was averaging nearly 12 minutes a game and had started two of Miami's first nine games, at that point.

--Freshman G Shane Larkin led the team in steals after coming up with six against North Carolina to raise his season total to 27. Next on the team with only 12 was G Trey McKinney-Jones.
--Senior F DeQuan Jones averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds an appearance in his first five games.

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