Previewing Miami

No. 15 North Carolina will look to rebound from a tough home loss against N.C. State when it heads to South Florida to take on Miami on Saturday. Tip-off at the BankUnited Center is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised by CBS.

North Carolina (19-9, 9-6) vs. Miami (18-10, 8-7)
Coral Gables, Fla. - BankUnited Center
Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
CBS (Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb)


“We’ve been very, very close without playing our best. I still think our best basketball is ahead of us. If we can play at our best, we can win any game we’re in.” — Miami head coach Jim Larranaga


Season to Date: Miami enters Saturday’s contest with a 18-10 (8-7 ACC) record. Despite their seven losses in league play, the Hurricanes have done well against the best teams in the conference (a 90-74 whipping of Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and a tough double overtime loss against No. 2 Virginia). Head coach Jim Larranaga’s squad has won four of its last six games. With matchups against UNC and road trips to Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech to close the regular season, this team has the opportunity to make a late push for an NCAA tournament bid.

Rebound Machine: UNC is a team that has been very strong on the glass for the most part this season, ranking sixth nationally in rebounding margin (plus-8.7). That being said, Miami center Tonye Jekiri will be a load for the Tar Heels’ frontcourt. The 7-footer is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game, good for tops in the ACC by more than a rebound (Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell averages 9.44 rpg). The junior big man has also brought down 94 offensive rebounds (tied for third-most in the ACC), and it’s on the defensive glass where UNC has struggled the most rebounding the ball.

Success from 3: This is a group that attempts a lot of 3-point shots. So far this season, Miami has attempted a whopping 645 shots from behind the arc (the most in the ACC). As a team, Miami has converted 35.3 percent of those opportunities (6th in the ACC). However, Miami has the second-highest average of made 3-pointers per game in the league (7.9).

Clutch from the Free Throw Line: In the 2014-2015 season, the Hurricane’s offense has been perfectly average. In the ACC, Miami ranks seventh in scoring offense (69.1 ppg), 11th in field goal percentage (43.8) and sixth in three-point percentage (35.3). One area that Larranaga’s team has been incredibly efficient is the charity stripe. As a team, Miami has converted 73.6 percent of its chances from the free throw line. The Hurricanes withstood Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes’ 30 points in the final 4:38 on Wednesday by knocking down 14 of their 16 free throws over the final 2:51.

Strong Guard Play: There might not be not be a ton of offensive production up front, but Miami’s starting backcourt have been able to pick up the slack. Juniors Angel Rodriguez (12.8 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Sheldon McClellan (15 ppg, 4.8 rpg) have combined for just over 40 percent of this team’s scoring output. The dynamic duo has also played a significant role in Miami’s success at the free throw line (both players are shooting over 75 percent at the line). The pair played a significant role in Miami’s blowout at Duke, combining lane penetration with a 5-of-11 shooting effort from 3-point range.

Last Meeting: The Hurricanes held the Tar Heels to a season-low 30.8 percent shooting in their 63-57 win at the Smith Center on Jan. 8, 2014. Miami took a commanding 46-33 lead with a 10-run early in the second half. James Michael McAdoo led UNC with 12 points.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Miami, 18-6. The Hurricanes have won four straight against the Tar Heels.

Projected Starters:
10 Sheldon McClellan (6-5, 205, RJr.) - 15.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
13 Angel Rodriguez (5-11, 180, RJr.) - 12.8 ppg, 4.4 apg
23 Tonye Jekiri (7-0, 244, Jr.) - 8.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg
5 Davon Reed (6-6, 208, So.) - 7.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg
22 Omar Sherman (6-8, 260, Fr.) - 5.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg

Top Reserves:
1 Deandre Burnett (6-2, 195, RFr.) - 7.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg
20 Manu Lecomte (5-11, 170, So.) - 7.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg
33 Ivan CruzUceda (6-10, 190, Fr.) - 3.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg

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(Photo by USA Today Sports)

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