Hoops: UM/FSU preview

The Miami Hurricanes are in action again on Wednesday night to face the Florida State Seminoles in a game that not only has ACC implications but also has bragging rights at stake. The in-state rivals will duel it out starting at 7:30 PM from the BankUnited Center.

Where do they stand?

Miami is 2-2 in the ACC heading into their third conference game of the season. Overall, the Canes are 13-4 and coming off a tough road loss to UNC. Hurricanes Head Coach Frank Haith knows that his team faces a tough opponent Wednesday night.

"It's obviously a big game for us. We're coming back home to play. It's important that we get off to a good start in this ball game. They're a talented team and very athletic. Defensively they're outstanding. It's going to be an extremely difficult game because you're talking about a team that's talented. They're right up there with the top two or three teams in our league in terms of talent."

The Seminoles are 15-3 on the year and have won two of their three ACC games losing only to perennial power Duke on January 10th.

What have you done for me lately?

The Hurricanes are coming off of a disappointing loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. Miami played excellent basketball in the first 16 minutes of the contest but was unable to continue their success the rest of the way as they lost 82-65. Before that game, Miami was on a six game winning streak capped off by a huge comeback win at home over Maryland.

Florida State hosted Maryland recently as well and they knocked off the Terps 76-73 in overtime. They also picked up an ACC road win on January 13th when they traveled to Raleigh, NC and beat Sidney Lowe's NC State squad 78 -65.

Probable Starters

Miami

G - Lance Hurdle - #1 – 6'2" 183 lbs – Senior

The senior has not had much success in ACC play this season averaging 4.5 points, 1 rebound and 2.3 assists in 24 minutes. Miami needs Hurdle to improve on that quickly as his play is very important to the success of the team. Hurdle struggled the last time he faced the Noles scoring just 4 points and dishing out three assists.

G – Jack McClinton - #33 – 6'1" 185 lbs – Senior

McClinton has risen to the challenge once again in ACC play. Averaging 17.8 points in 33 minutes, the senior guard has taken on more point guard minutes in the absence of Eddie Rios. Jack will need to limit his turnovers against an excellent defender in Toney Douglas or the Canes will be in trouble.

G/F – DeQuan Jones - #32 – 6'6" 217 lbs – Freshman

Jones made a mark in his first ACC start with a thunderous dunk at North Carolina. The Georgia native will be facing off against another talented freshman from the Peach State in Chris Singleton. This should be a great match-up to watch Wednesday night.

F – Cyrus McGowan - #20 – 6'9" 236 lbs – Junior

McGowan has seen his minutes diminish a bit in ACC play partly due to the more athletic lineups that teams have employed and the improved play of Adrian Thomas. Wednesday night McGowan will be facing a huge FSU front court and will need to do a lot of work inside for Miami to win.

F – Dwayne Collins - #21 – 6'8" 238 lbs – Junior

Collins is facing his toughest match-up since Hasheem Thabeet. Solomon Alabi has blocked 37 shots already this season and will be looking to alter Miami's shots all night. Collins has typically struggled when facing larger big men. The Canes will need a big game out of him Wednesday night to get the W.

Florida State

G – Toney Douglas - # 23 – 6'2" 200 lbs – Senior

Offensively, Douglas is the focal point for the Seminoles. He has stepped up in ACC play averaging 21.3 points per game, nearly three points higher than his season average. Defensively, the senior is excellent leading the team in steals. If Douglas has a good game it is likely going to be a long night for Miami.

G – Derwin Kitchen - # 22 – 6'4" 180 lbs - Sophomore

Kitchen has traveled a long road before landing at FSU. The Sophomore signed with Florida and enrolled at St. John's before attending school and playing basketball at Iowa Western Community College. He then chose the Noles over a few other teams including Miami. In 9 games, Kitchen is averaging 8.8 points per game, third best on the team.

F – Chris Singleton - # 31 – 6'9" 220 lbs - Freshman

Singleton is a big freshman making a big impact for FSU. His 9.2 points per game are second only to Toney Douglas and he has made an even bigger impact on the glass. His 6.1 rebounds per game lead the team. Singleton is also an excellent shot blocker. It will be fun to watch him go against Miami's freshman standout, DeQuan Jones.

F – Uche Echefu - #41 – 6'9" 225 lbs - Senior

Echefu recently entered Leonard Hamilton's starting lineup and is another long, athletic big man for the Noles. He is a good shooter for someone his size and will knock down the open three pointer. Miami cannot forget about the Nigerian or he will make them pay from outside.

C – Solomon Alabi - # 32 – 7'1" 241 lbs - Freshman

The red-shirt freshman has mad a huge impact for the Noles this year. Already the second-best shot blocker in the ACC, Alabi will make the Hurricanes think twice about going in the paint. He's not a bad rebounder either as his height and length give him an advantage over most big men.

Star Watch

Once again the Canes will look for Jack McClinton to be their dynamic deep threat and knock down threes from all over the court. The Baltimore native led Miami in scoring against UNC with 21 points but he also had five turnovers and just one assist. Miami will need Jack to protect the ball a little better against the Noles. They would also like a better shooting performance from their star guard as he was 9-20 in his last game including 3-10 from beyond the arc.

For the Noles, Toney Douglas is their man on offense. The senior is averaging 18.9 points per game and rarely steps off the floor for Coach Leonard Hamilton's squad. Douglas also has a team high 38 steals on the year which could be a problem for Miami as they have struggled at times with pressure defenders. FSU needs a big game from Douglas as none of the players around him have shown that they can carry a team to victory.

Keys to the Game

- Stop the Star

Both Miami and Florida State have star guards that can take over a game. The team the can limit the opponent's star the most will be in a great position to come away with the win.

- Crash the Boards

Florida State should dominate this aspect of the game with their considerable size advantage but that does not mean Miami will just concede rebounds to the Noles. The Canes need to work hard to establish good position inside especially on offense as second chance points will be a huge factor in this one.

- Take the Next Step

Both teams will need role players to step up in this rivalry game. Whether it's the freshmen sensations, the senior big men, the transfer players or someone else, both Miami and Florida State will look beyond McClinton and Douglas to get this win.

Miami vs Florida State

The Seminoles lead the all-time series 33-27 and have had the upper hand over the Canes recently, winning the past five meetings between the two teams. The last time the two teams met, FSU edged out Miami 75-72 picking up and overtime victory in Tallahassee.

Quick Thoughts

Coach Haith on the Seminoles

"They're a talented team and very athletic. Defensively they're outstanding. I think they've got one of the best guards in the league in Douglas. We've got to do a great job on him. They're extremely long and athletic in terms of their wings and their bigs. Alabi is starting to be a factor for them now that he's playing. He's 7-foot-1. Other than Hasheem Thabeet, we haven't played anyone with that type of length."

Jack McClinton on Toney Douglas

"Douglas is one of the top guards in the league. Not only does he do his job running his team on offense but he's an all-league defender. He really gets the team riled up when he gets defensive stops and steals."


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