NOTABLES: Don't Forget The Bigs

A lot of attention will be on the guards tonight in NC State's matchup at Miami, but the team that receives the most production from the frontcourt will likely come away with the victory.

When NC State shocked Duke at PNC Arena, the Pack had to overcome a talented big man in Jahlil Okafor.

The future lottery pick got his stats, but the Pack countered with the quartet of Kyle Washington, Abdul-Malik Abu, BeeJay Anya and Lennard Freeman. Okafor finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the NC State frontcourt responded with 35 points and 20 rebounds.

Miami center Tonye Jekiri is not the offensive threat that Okafor is, but he did post a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) in Miami’s romp over Duke in Cameron. Jekiri leads the ACC in rebounding with an average of 10.1 per game. He has stepped up his production in league play, averaging 12.5 in ACC games.

He's a great screener, rebounder, and post defender, but Jekiri has been Miami's lone consistent frontcourt option. Omer Sherman, Devon Reed, and Joe Thomas have all had solid games, but don't seem to bring it every night like Jekiri.

NC State will probably not be able to keep Jekiri off the boards (he's one of the few big men in the league averaging 30 minutes per game so he'll get his stats), but a collective effort like the one against Duke will give the Pack a much better chance at earning an important road win.

Who Will Start?
Picking who will start for Miami is a crapshoot.

While Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Tonye Jekiri have started all 17 games for the Hurricanes, Jim Larrañaga has been flexible with the other two members of his starting five. He has started eight different players so far this season.

Sophomore guard Manu Lecomte has been a starter 14 times and is the third-leading scorer for the Canes at just under 10 points per game. He came off the bench at Duke and finished with 23 points in 28 minutes.

Others who have started include: DeAndre Burnett, Omer Sherman, Joe Thomas, and Devon Reed. The Canes also recently added Ivan Cruz Uceda to the rotation, a skilled big man who played for the first time this season against Notre Dame.

The Canes are expected to start Burnett and Sherman tonight with the "Big Three," but don't be surprised if others are major factors. Miami has recorded 18+ points off the bench in 13 of 17 games this season.

Star Watch
Angel Rodriguez has been sensational for the Hurricanes this season.

The redshirt junior from Kansas State was dynamic in Durham against Duke, torching the Blue Devils for 24 points (8-15 FG, 4-6 3FG) along with five assists, five steals and four rebounds.

“I thought Rodriguez was sensational,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterwards. “He not only scored, but he controlled the game. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in Cameron from an opposing player. Their whole team played well, but he really set the tone in how well he played. He was great—not good—he was great.”

He struggled in the Hurricanes’ loss at No. 12 Notre Dame on Saturday, finishing with only four points. The Canes falling short against the Fighting Irish accentuates the importance of Rodriguez to Larrañaga’s offense. Miami will look for its star to return to form tonight against NC State.

In Miami’s three games against top 10 teams - No. 3 Virginia, No. 4 Duke and No. 8/7 Florida - Rodriguez has put on a show, averaging 24.3 points and 5.0 assists.

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