Preview: Miami @ No. 12 Notre Dame

The status of Zach Auguste for Saturday’s game against Miami remains a mystery as the Irish try to contend with the hot-shooting Hurricanes, who blitzed Duke for 56 second-half points Tuesday in its decisive 90-74 victory over the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

• Game 19: Miami (12-4, 2-1) @ No. 12 Notre Dame (16-2, 4-1)
• Date: Jan. 17, 2015
• Place: Purcell Pavilion; Notre Dame, Ind.
• Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN2
• Location: Miami, Fla.
• Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
• Nickname: Hurricanes
• 2013-14 record: 17-16 (7-11/10th in ACC)


Miami Head Coach
Jim Larranaga (4th year at Miami) – Career record: 548-374 in 31 years overall (27-26 in two seasons at American International; 170-144 in 11 seasons at Bowling Green, 273-164 in 14 seasons at George Mason; 78-40 in fourth season at Miami).

Larranaga, 65, toiled in anonymity for 20 seasons as a head coach at American International, Bowling Green and George Mason before leading the Patriots to the Final Four in his eighth season (2005-06). George Mason finished 27-8 that season, falling to Ohio State in the semi-finals.

Larranaga led George Mason to five NCAA tournament appearances in 14 seasons. At Miami, he led the Hurricanes to the ACC regular season and tournament championships in his second season (2012-13) with a 29-7 record and a trip to the Sweet 16.

Raised in The Bronx, the 6-foot-4 Larranaga played his college basketball at Providence, where he captained the Friars to a 20-8 record in 1970-71. He finished as Providence’s No. 5 all-time leading scorer.

Miami Scouting Report
The Hurricane backcourt of Angel Rodriguez, Manu Lecomte and Sheldon McClellan combined for 61 points on 18-of-36 shooting from the field and 8-of-15 from three-point range in Tuesday’s 90-74 victory at Duke. The Hurricanes scored 56 points in the second half.

Rodriquez, a 5-foot-11, 181-pound junior transfer from Kansas State, also tossed in 25 points against Virginia in Miami’s ACC opener. He is second on the squad in scoring to McClellan at 15.2 points per game with a team-leading 35 three-pointers (37.6 percent).

McClellan, himself a transfer from Texas, is a 6-foot-5, 206-pound junior who is scoring at a 15.3 pace with a 53.2 shooting percentage. He’s third on the team in three-pointers with 22 (37.9 percent) while ranking second in rebounds per game (5.5). McClellan has scored in double figures in 13 straight games.

Lecomte, a 5-foot-11, 159-pound sophomore, scored 23 points against the Blue Demons and averages 10.2 points per game. Second on the team in three-pointers made (30), Lecomte is Miami’s most accurate shooter from distance (44.1 percent). He also is prolific at the free-throw line where he is shooting 88.5 percent (26-of-30), including 10-of-11 at Duke.

The Hurricanes rely heavily upon 7-foot-0, 235-pound junior Tonye Jekiri to grab a vast majority of the rebounds. In addition to his 7.9 scoring average, he averages 9.9 caroms per game, including 42 on the offensive end.

Deandre Burnett, a 6-foot-2 freshman, averages 8.7 points per game.

Brey on Miami
“They’re really good. (Angel) Rodriguez is off the charts. To score 56 points in a half in Cameron…guarding the ball screen and guarding their guards is a big challenge. But we’ve got really good guards, too. It’s a great perimeter matchup here in league play.”

Brey on getting to 5-1 in the ACC
“It would be huge. I know we’re going to have a great crowd. It’s sold out and given what we did and what they did (earlier this week), it’s a heckuva game between upper-tier teams. To be 5-1 in this league before we go on the road (to play Virginia Tech and North Carolina State) would be great. It’s going to be a dogfight.

“A lot of my friends and fans email me and say, ‘My heart can’t take it.’ I said, ‘You better get your medicine because this isn’t going to change. This is league play.’ I told our players, ‘We like that.’ We kind of drink from that cup deeply and enjoy the stress.”

Brey on Miami coach Jim Larranaga
“He got to the Final Four at George Mason, but he’s been a little bit under the radar. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a really talented offensive guy, and if you look at how they’re playing this year, they’ve got really good guards. They don’t over-analyze it. They ball screen for their guards and get the heck out of the way.

“They play with a free mind and they really attack. That’s really (Larranaga’s) greatest strength. He’s a really good teacher. I’ve gotten to know him well. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Miami-Notre Dame Preview
The Hurricanes are one of the most dangerous teams in the ACC at the present time with a 90-74 dismantling of Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 4 Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Arena earlier this week, as well as an 89-80 double-overtime loss at Virginia to open conference play.

Miami is one of just four teams with victories on the road against two ranked opponents. The Hurricanes also won at No. 8 Florida in the second game of the season.

The time to catch Miami was in December when the Hurricanes lost at home to Green Bay by 13, at home to Eastern Kentucky by an astonishing 28, and against Providence in Brooklyn by 14 – all within a 17-day span.

The culprit was bad shooting and the inability to rebound the basketball. The Hurricanes shot just 32.8 percent against Green Bay and 29.3 percent versus Eastern Kentucky while getting hammered on the backboards by a combined 83-63. Against Providence, Miami made just 5-of-27 three-pointers.

But that all seems like ancient history now that the Hurricanes are coming off a convincing victory at Duke, out-scoring the Blue Devils 56-39 in the second half after trailing by one at the break.

Meanwhile, the Irish are feeling good about themselves with their dramatic three-point victory at Georgia Tech sans 6-foot-10 junior and Notre Dame’s second leading scorer and rebounder – Zach Auguste – whose status was still in limbo as of Saturday morning. Auguste did not make the trip to Atlanta and was still “tending to his academics” when head coach Mike Brey spoke with the media Thursday afternoon.

With Auguste, the Irish are incredibly small, although 6-foot-5, 226-pound freshman Bonzie Colson came up big in 22 minutes of action against the Yellow Jackets by scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Colson also grabbed four rebounds and provided the physical force in the middle against bruising Charles Mitchell and Demarco Cox.

With the game on the line, the Irish clamped down defensively, holding Georgia Tech to just six second-half field goals on 23 attempts.

How long can the Irish play without a true big man as freshman Martin Geben continues to struggle and red-shirt freshman Austin Torres battles a talent-deficiency versus ACC opposition? At least for another game against a Miami team that – other than 7-foot-0, 235-pound junior Jekiri – has its own issues on the backboards.

Both teams come into this game shooting the basketball well, and Purcell Pavilion is the ideal venue to keep the fires burning. Should Auguste be cleared to play in this game, which appears doubtful, one could expect a bit of anxiety on his part to make up for his brief absence. Without him, this has the makings of a real run-and-gun affair with a bunch of shooters on display.

• Pointspread: Notre Dame by 6
• Irish Illustrated Prediction: Notre Dame 83, Miami 82
• Season record: 12-6 straight up; 4-6 vs. points


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