Canes aim to stop skid

The steak is over. But the murderous road-trip through the Big East isn't quite finished. The University of Miami (14-2) men's basketball will attempt to stop the bleeding this afternoon at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg against the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-9, 0-3), another team staggered and trying to close some wounds.

After opening the season with a school-record 14 consecutive victories that vaulted them into both major polls, the Hurricanes have suffered back-to-back conference defeats and need a victory to avoid a losing record in their first Big East stretch away from home.

And to erase a dismal memory.

The Hurricanes are coming off perhaps their worse performance of the season, losing to St. John 71-60 in a game they led at the intermission.

Miami's shooting woes in the second half (3-of-30 from the floor) and lack of bench scoring led to a miserable 30 minutes of basketball for Perry Clark's crew. Miami made one field goal in the last 16 minutes of the contest, including 0-of-13 from the three-point arc. Only one UM reserve provided any points.

Sophomore Darius Rice, who is averaging a team-leading 13.6 points per game, could not find his stroke going just 3-of-15. John Salmons wasn't much better with one field goal all night. James Jones was only able to match Salmon's production- one field goal.

The Hurricanes problems the other night in Alumni Hall was something they have experienced little of this season. UM starters, all in double-figure points per game this season, have had little difficulty putting the ball in the basket. Aside from Rice, Jones (13.2), Salmons (13.1), guard Marcus Barnes (12.0) and center Elton Tyler (10.0) have all been effective.

But Miami has struggled in other areas.The Hurricanes have been outrebounded in the last two games and have ran into trouble trying to take the ball inside.

Opponents have limited the Canes to the perimeter with a lot zone defense and they haven't shown the ability to adjust. And poor shooting hasn't helped, either.

Of 57 field goals the Hurricanes attempted against St. John's 26 were three-pointers after taking 17 against the Huskies. Salmons, with 87 assists on the season, is the only player that has been consistent in going to the paint.

The Hurricanes were dominated on the boards against Connecticut last Saturday (42 to 28) and gave up the winning points on free throws after an offensive rebound off a miss with seconds remaining. St. John's also won the battle on the glass against Miami.

The Hokies, losers of four straight games and coming off a 95-60 loss at Connecticut, will hope the backcourt tandem of junior Brian Chase and sophomore Carlos Dixon is on top of their games in order to stay with the Hurricanes. Chase and Dixon are two of four starters in double-figure points.

Dixon, who has started nine games this season, anchors the offense with a 12.7 points per game average. Despite barely shooting 40 percent from the floor on the season, Dixon a long-range threat. His 22-of-61 from three-point range.

Chase ranks second on the team at 11.5 points per game and is also a dangerous shooter from long-range. Chase is a whooping 43-of-92 behind the line for 46 percent.

Junior center Terry Taylor and senior Carlton Carter are the VT players the Hurricanes might have to concern themselves with in the paint. The 6-8 Carter, averaging 10.1 points a contest, leads the team with 8.3 rpg and could cause problems for Tyler. Taylor is grabbing 6.2 boards a contest.

The Hokies last recorded a victory on Dec. 15 against Radford, 63-56.

Miami, third in the Big East East Division, and Virginia Tech, last, will be meeting for only the third time. Both teams split the season series last year winning on each other's floor. Miami beat the Hokies 86-61 at home, while dropping a 85-74 decision in Blacksburg.

Canes Time Top Stories