Canes Aiming For A Spark

University of Miami senior go-to-guy Darius Rice promises to keep firing away. Ditto for Rob Hite, who hasn't been shy about taking matters into his own hands when the Hurricanes have needed him the most this season. And coach Perry Clark is desperately seeking ways to get his players more open looks at the basket.

"Like I said the other day, I knew there were going to be games that we wouldn't shoot the ball very well," says Clark. "But sooner or later the ball has to start falling down for us. We're not the type of team to go out and just beat up people physically so its crucial that we get some buckets."

Short on inside muscle and depth the Hurricanes are a team that needs all the scoring they can get on a night in and night out basis - especially in the Big East. Unfortunately for Miami, making any kind of shot has been a major problem as of late. The Hurricanes (13-7, 3-3), who enter tonight's conference game against the Georgetown Hoyas (11-5, 2-4) on a two-game losing streak, are currently mired in one of their worst shooting slumps in recent memories.

UM shot 37.5 percent as a team against Notre Dame as their top three scorers were held in check. Rice, averaging 17 points per game, scored a team-high 26 points against the Fighting Irish, but he was just 9-of-21 from the floor, including 3-of-10 in the first half. Rice, 7-of -33 from three-point range in six conference games this season, is shooting 33.8 percent (20-of-59) from the floor in the last three games. Hite was held to 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting, while freshman Guillermo Diaz had nine points.

In last Sunday's loss to Villanova the Hurricanes shot 33.3 percent after making just 10 of 41 field goals in the second half. Despite taking good care of the ball - the Hurricanes have committed just 26 turnovers in the last three games - UM has scored more than 70 points in one of its last five games.

"It's kind of tough right now because we're not getting anything to fall, but we have to keep plugging away," said Hite, who is tied with Rice at 17 points per game and is shooting 56 percent, second-best in the Big East. "The thing we can't do is rush shots because that's only going to make it worse. We have to smarter with our shot selection."

Getting more production from the bench couldn't hurt either. Junior forward William Frisby has 17 points in the last four games combined for the Hurricanes. But no reserve player for UM has reached double-figure points during that stretch of games. The Hoyas, who have lost five of their last six games to fall into sixth-place in the Big East, are in danger of dropping out of the conference race. Senior forward Gerald Riley, who had 22 points in a 65-50 loss to Providence earlier this week, leads the Hoyas with a team-high 16.8 points per game. Riley has added 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in addition to 30 steals this season. Sophomore forward Brandon Bowman, averaging 16 points per game, has a team-leading 21 blocks and 7.0 rebounds per game. Junior swingman Darrel Owens has the given the Hoyas a lift on defense with 37 steals, while sophomore guard Ashanti Cook is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Georgetown, which has dropped eight of the last 12 games against Miami, leads the all-time series 17-12.

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