SCOUTING THE HURRICANES
Miami, winner of 17 straight non-conference games at the BankUnited Center, is long on potential and size but short on experience. The Hurricanes have five players 6-8 or taller – including a 6-10 center and a 6-11 forward/center – and look very similar to West Virginia in that the entire roster has some length. Center Reggie Johnson, 6-10, 303 pounds, is second on the squad with 12.4 points per game. The sophomore, named Miami's Most Improved Player last season, converts 61.5 percent from the floor. His game's solely around the rim, but he does get to the line well, where he is making 65.8 percent. His size makes for a solid rebounder at more than 10 a game, but at times he lacks body control and can get into foul trouble against high-level competition. He does flash excellent aggressiveness and ball skills, and isn't likely to turn it over. Fellow frontcourt player Julian Gamble (6-9, 258 lbs.) hits for just 3.4 points and three boards a game and is a bit part player for head coach Frank Haith. Gamble plays about 13 minutes a game and, like Johnson, has yet to take a three. He isn't as aggressive inside and rarely gets to the line, but he has a bit more range.
Haith plays three guards, the best of which is two-man Durand Scott. Scott played AAU basketball with West Virginia point guard Truck Bryant for the New York Gauchos, and was among the better recruits for the ‘Canes over the last three seasons. The sophomore averages a team-best 14.6 points per game with four rebounds. Scott sees more than 28 minutes per game, and should play more than that against the Mountaineers if he stays out of foul trouble. An All-ACC Freshman Team pick last year, Scott shoots well from all over the floor and has the quickness and ability to get into the lane and create for himself. He won't take a ton of threes if he can drive, and he'd rather get to the line (85.4 percent) than take lower-percentage chances from outside. He has an impressive 32 assists against 16 turnovers, making him one of just three Hurricanes to have a positive ratio on a team with 110 turnovers against 98 assists. Point guard Malcolm Grant (6-1, 180 lbs.) is good for another 12-plus points per game. The junior takes about 12 shots a game, making 37.7 percent. He likes the three, making 17 of 43. Not nearly as active off the bounce as Scott, Grant is more of a pure shooter who also distributes and handles well at 29 assists and 17 turnovers.
Swingman Garrius Adams (6-6, 196 lbs.) tallies seven points and three rebounds. He doesn't take a ton of shots and seems content to be the fourth or fifth option on the floor. He is built well, though, and can challenge on the glass if not bodied up.The guard depth isn't great with only freshman Rian Brown (6-5, 188 lbs.) seeing even decent time. Brown hits for seven points and a couple rebounds in about 17 minutes. He is a good shooter, making 10 of 24 three-pointers thus far and a similar percentage inside the arc. A McDonald's All-American nominee, Brown can get to the hoop and shows a nice first step. He's also usually the first to leak out in transition, so the Mountaineers must be aware of this.
|Sat. Dec. 4
Big East Network on FSN
WVU - 12
Miami - 35
Junior swingman DeQuan Jones (6-7, 219 lbs.) has started five times this year and plays almost 15 minutes per. He makes 44.4 percent from the floor, but has taken just seven threes, missing six. He has also turned the ball over 11 times, which isn't a huge number, but begins to show the patterns of UM not protecting and not playing team basketball at times. Forward back-ups Adrian Thomas (6-7, 226 lbs.) and Donnavan Kirk (6-9, 227 lbs.) play 26 and 13 minutes, respectively. Thomas, a graduate student, is likely the most well-build player on the roster. He has excellent bulk and, surprisingly, led the ACC in three-point percentage at 42.1 as a senior last year. He gained another year of eligibility because of two season-ending injuries in 2006-07 and 07-08. Thomas averages eight points and four rebounds and is making 35 percent from the field and three-point range. Just six of his 51 shots have come inside the arc. Kirk plays entirely inside and converts well at the line. He is managing three points and 2.6 rebounds, and will be the ninth player to see the floor if he does at all against West Virginia as he tries to settle back in to the flow after an injury slowed his freshman year.
Miami has been very good at home under Haith, winning 42 of its last 52 and 72 of 99 overall under the coach. The Hurricanes try to take advantage of whatever the defense gives them, getting out in transition, shooting the three from certain positions and pounding the ball inside to the power players. The problem is that the ‘Canes simply haven't held on to the ball as well as they have needed to do. The talent present is still a bit young, though there's no denying Miami's recruiting has picked up over the past 36 months. That skill must be meshed, though. If West Virginia can deny interior passes and keep UM from scoring on the block, it should be able to guard the perimeter well enough to give itself a good chance. These Mountaineers can score, and thus far Miami hasn't shown the ability to make field goals against long teams. This is still a Jekyll-Hyde team at times, abusing Mississippi for 86 points while getting little more than half that in a 45-point night against Rutgers. Miami needs to shoot well; WVU usually doesn't allow that. Play solid defense, and this is a game the Mountaineers can pick up that will look solid come resume time.
West Virginia has won seven of its last eight games in the state of Florida. It is 13-11 all-time in the state.
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WVU has 69 regular-season wins over nonconference foes over the last seven seasons.
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The Mountaineers defeated Miami in the teams' last match-up, a 58-53 contest in Coral Gables on March 6, 2004. The series began on Dec. 30, 1955 with a 83-78 WVU win in the Orange Bowl Classic.
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Huggins has not faced Frank Haith or Miami. WVU is 3-4 all-time in games held in Miami. The Mountaineers are 127-97 versus current ACC members, including 23-14 against Maryland, 5-0 vs. UNC and 7-3 head-to-head with Wake Forest.
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Miami lost to Memphis (72-68) and Big East foe Rutgers (61-45) this season. They have a win over a major conference foe in Ole Miss (86-73). WVU is 1-1 over major conference opponents this season.