Previewing Miami

The Tar Heels visit the ACC's top team on Saturday - Miami is undefeated in league play and undefeated at home. Tip-off at the BankUnited Center is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN.

North Carolina (16-6, 6-3) vs. Miami (18-3, 9-0)
Coral Gables, Fla. -- BankUnited Center
Saturday, 2:00pm
ESPN (Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke)


"I think the reason that we've enjoyed this early season success is because we have an older group. We do have four seniors in our starting lineup, and they've been through the ACC battles for the last several years, and they know how challenging it is, and they've done a very good job of preparing themselves to play well." -- Miami head coach Jim Larranaga


Since the Last Meeting: Miami enters Saturday's contest with am 18-3 (9-0 ACC) record. Since beating North Carolina on Jan. 10, the Hurricanes have won seven straight against conference opponents by an average of 13 points per game. Head coach Jim Larranaga's squad throttled then-No. 1 Duke, 90-63, on Jan. 23, but also escaped Chestnut Hill and Raleigh with one-point victories.

Streaking: Miami has won 10 straight games after opening the season with an 8-3 record. During this winning streak, the Hurricanes are shooting 45.6 percent (36.5 percent from 3) while holding their opponents to 37.7 percent. Miami holds a plus-4.7 rebounding edge and have forced 16 more turnovers. Most importantly, however, is that the Hurricanes are outscoring their opponents by 13 points.

Kadji Stepping Up: During Miami's current 10-game winning streak, senior forward Kenny Kadji has elevated his play to pace the Hurricanes with 15.1 points per game on 54.4 percent shooting, including a 42.9 mark from 3-point range (24-of-41). He's also averaging 7.0 rebounds in 27.8 minutes over that span.

Defensive Presence: Defense has been the foundation for Miami's stroll through the first half of the ACC schedule. In conference play, the Hurricanes rank second in field goal percentage defense (37.8) and blocked shots (5.6), third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.6) and first in steals (7.0). Miami has also been efficient in forcing turnovers (12.2; 6th ACC) to post a plus-1.78 turnover margin (4th ACC). The Canes have held 15 of their 21 opponents this season under 41 percent.

Cousy Finalist: Sophomore point Shane Larkin earned USBWA National Player of the Week and ACC POW honors last week after averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 steals and 3.0 rebounds in victories over Virginia Tech and N.C. State. He shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from the floor, including a 46.7 mark from long range (7-of-15). The 5-foot-10 guard out of Orlando, Fla. is averaging 12.8 points and 4.1 assists per game. Larkin was recently named as one of 12 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation's top point guard.

Balance: Six different Hurricanes have led their team in scoring, seven have posted game-highs in rebounds, eight in steals and six in blocks.

National Ranking: Miami is currently ranked No. 8 in the AP poll, tying the school's highest AP rank in history.

Last Meeting: The Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels, 68-59, on Jan. 10. Miami shot 47.2 percent and made nine 3-pointers while holding UNC to 40.0 percent shooting. James Michael McAdoo led UNC with 14 points and six rebounds. Reggie Bullock added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Series History: North Carolina leads the overall series with Miami, 18-3. UNC is 5-1 at the BankUnited Center.

Projected Starters:
0 Shane Larkin (5-11, 176, So.) - 12.8 ppg, 4.1 apg
1 Durand Scott (6-5, 203, Sr.) - 13.8 ppg, 2.9 apg
4 Trey McKinney Jones (6-5, 220, Sr.) - 9.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
35 Kenny Kadji (6-11, 242, Sr.) - 13.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg
45 Julian Gamble (6-10, 250, Sr.) - 6.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
42 Reggie Johnson (6-10, 292, Sr.) - 9.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg
15 Rion Brown (6-6, 200, Jr.) - 6.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg

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(Photos by USA Today Sports)

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