UM-Indiana in the ‘Classic'

The University of Miami men's basketball is off to one of the most impressive starts in school history and could still hear the whispers of being untested to this point in the season. The Hurricanes can take care of that this Saturday night, Dec. 15- against a team they've never played before.

Miami (8-0) will face Indiana (6-2) in the first of two games in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the American Airlines Arena (5 p.m.). The University of Florida will meet Charlotte in the night-cap.

With a victory over the Hoosiers, the Hurricanes, coming off a 64-55 victory over Texas A&M, can equal the best start ever in school history (1962-63, 1997-98). Miami owns three straight victories over ranked opponents and has wins over ranked teams the last seven seasons.

"Playing the Indiana Hoosiers is clearly something that can only help our program and makes us a stronger basketball team down the road," said University of Miami head coach Perry Clark. "They have a great tradition and will certainly pose a tremendous challenge for us."

The days of the red sweater and the court-side antics of one Bobby Knight may be history in Bloomingdale, but longtime assistant Mike Davis has done nothing to embarrass himself- on or off the hardwood. In his second season at Indiana, Davis currently sports a 27-15 record in his short time at the school and guided the team to a 21-13 mark last season.

The Hoosiers broke into the polls this week (No. 21 AP, No. 24 ESPN/USA Today) after a 74-61 win over previously ranked Ball State, Dec. 8. After a slow start, including losses to Marquette in the Great Alaska Shootout and at Southern Illinois, the Hoosiers have won two straight games. Indiana defeated Notre Dame 76-75 before knocking off Ball State. And sophomore forward Jared Jeffries is a big reason why.

Jeffries, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, leads Indiana in scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). Jeffries shot 58 percent from the floor (18-37) and averaged 25 points to go with 13 rebounds last week. He added 13 rebounds and was 4-7 from three point range. Jeffries had a career-high 28 points in the victory over the Fighting Irish. He has a team-high 14 steals.

Junior guard Tom Coverdale is the only other IU player averaging double figure points a game with 12.3. Coverdale is connecting at 45 percent clip from the floor, which includes 15-35 (43 percent) from three-point range. Dane Fife is another threat fromlong range for the Hoosiers. Fife has also made 15-of-35 three-pointers (43 percent).

But there is a good chance Jeffries and company could be busy on defense. All five Miami starters are averaging in double figures so far this season with sophomore forward at a team-leading 14. 4 points. Rice also has a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. Among the scoring leaders- James Jones (13.9), Marcus Barnes (13.0), John Salmons (12.5) and Elton Tyler (10.0) Jones is averaging 7.1 rebounds a game.

The Hurricanes scoring versatility has Davis concerned.

"We're going to have our work cut out for us," Davis said. "You can't focus too much on one guy because any of them can beat you."

Not having to go very far to play the ‘Classic' may be nice, but the Hurricanes are probably hoping for better results, starting with the Hoosiers. The Hurricanes, making their eighth appearance in the tournament, are 2-5 all-time in the Classic, including a 72-64 loss to Nebraska last year.

The Hurricanes are 65-35 in non-conference games since 1991, but have just two victories in 12 tries against the Big Ten.

After facing Indiana, the Hurricanes will return to Miami Arena for two straight home games: Florida A&M (Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m.) and Charlotte (Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.).

JUST WIN, BABY: The UM broadcast team of Mark Vandermeer and Joe Zagacki have announced 35 straight victories, including 16 straight in baseball, 11 consecutive football and the Hurricanes eight straight in basketball.

ON THE AIR: Both ‘Classic' games will be televised on the Sunshine Network with Beth Mowins (play-by-play) and Charles Davis (analysis). Vandermeer and Zagacki will handle the radio broadcast on WAXY 790 AM.

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