Miami vs. Dook Game Preview (via @HardwoodU)
Cameron Indoor Stadium is known as one of the toughest venues for a visiting team to come away with a win. That is, unless your name is Jim Larranaga. Coach Larranaga has led Miami to a 4-2 record against the Blue Devils during his tenure, and Miami is one of two schools to record more than one win in Cameron during that time (UNC).
Both Miami (12-5, 2-3 ACC) and [URL=https://www.canesinsight.com/usertag.php?do=list&action=hash&hash=1]#1 8[/URL] Duke (14-4, 2-3 ACC) are looking to reverse their recent trend. Miami has gone 1-3 in the past 2 weeks, with losses against Syracuse, Notre Dame, and most recently Wake Forest (the lone win coming against Pittsburgh). The Wake Forest loss was a brutal one, as an ACC opponent who had a lone conference win against Boston College thoroughly dominated Miami.
Meanwhile, Duke is coming off of back-to-back road losses at Florida State and at Louisville, in addition to losing their conference opener at Virginia Tech. Duke is now 0-3 in ACC play on the road, and 2-0 in ACC play in Durham (albeit against weaker opponents). Both of these teams are desperate to come away with a win to even their ACC record and turn their season around, and being featured on ESPN’s College Gameday just adds to the prestige.
The Duke Blue Devils(RPI 15) come into Saturday night’s matchup with an ACC record of2-3. Jeff Capel is the acting head coach as Coach K continues to recover from surgery. He led them to 2 home victories over ACC perennial bottom dwellers Boston College and Georgia Tech, but was unable to continue the winning ways at Florida State and at Louisville. As strange as it is, the Hurricanes and Blue Devils have only one common opponent so far this year, the Florida Gators. While Miami was unable to pull off the neutral site victory, the healthy Blue Devils came away with a 10pt victory.
This year’s Duke squad is among the best in the nation at scoring margin, 3-pt defense, and free throws percentage. After sitting out both games against Florida State, it looks like the ACC’s leading rebounder, Amile Jefferson, will remain sidelined with a foot injury (day-to-day). With a team that stifles opponents from beyond the arc, they are forced to rely on their big men to pick up a huge lapse in the paint. Many of you know Grayson Allen for being a total , but what you may not know is you are absolutely right. In addition to being the scum of the earth, he also averaged 15.7 ppg and 4.3 apg.
Sophomore guard Luke Kennard is still the most dangerous member of this Blue Devils squad. He is averaging 20.2 ppg, shooting 53% from the field and 87% from the line. Freshman forward Jayson Tatum adds 16.8 ppg and is the best active Duke rebounder, bringing down 6.6 boards per game. Senior guard Matt Jones is one of the ACC leaders in steals, averages 8.2 ppg, and continues to live in the shadow of his sister Jordan Jones, All-American at Texas A&M. The starting five is rounded out by freshman forward and One Direction impersonator Harry Giles, who was the consensus #1 high school recruit in the Class of 2016, but has continued to hurt his draft stock, averaging 5.6 ppg and 5 rpg.
What to Watch For
Grayson Allen shenanigans. Because it doesn’t matter if the play is dead, you’re on the bench, or you’re a fan in the stands…NOTHING STOPS THE WRATH OF A SPOILED WHITE KID.
But in all seriousness, senior Davon Reed has been on fire as of late, netting 18+ points in 4 of the 5 ACC contests. He was arguably the lone bright spot for the Hurricanes in their loss at Wake Forest, scoring 24 points (3-8 3pt) while adding 3 rebound, 4 assists, and going 5-5 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, senior Ja’Quan Newton is playing in an uncomfortable role, and it is starting to show. During ACC play, he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1, to go along with a FT% of 58%. If Miami wants to win basketball games, their starting point guard needs to take a page out of the Katie Meier playbook and focus on the fundamentals.
Freshman Bruce Brown is also showing why he was a top recruit, matching up against some of the top performers in the ACC and carrying his own. He has scored 17 points in both of Miami’s ACC wins, and has been on the court for over 30 minutes in all but one ACC contest. Freshman Dewan Huell is on the other end of the spectrum, averaging about 4ppg and 3rpg in conference play, in large part due to a 9 point, 8 board performance against Wake Forest. Hopefully Wake was the Wake-Up Call (pun absolutely intended) to show Huell he can stand up to the tougher competition in the league.
Miami is dead last in the ACC with an assist-to-turnover ratio of .91 and second to last in free throws made with 283. On the positive side, the Canes are among nation’s best in rebounding, scoring defense, and fouls committed. Coach Larranaga has continued to praise the defensive effort from Kamari Murphy. The performance from the Oklahoma State transfer is in large part a reason why the Canes have the second best rebounding margin in the ACC. Once Huell starts to familiarize himself with the level of play, and Ebuka Izundu can correct one of the most ridiculous statistical anomalies in the country (committing a foul approximately every 3:40 he is on the court), the Canes won’t need a dominant offensive performance every game to pull off the victory. With Jefferson out, the inside presence of the Miami big men going up against Tatum and Giles will be a major key to upsetting the Blue Devils and pissing off a bunch of trust fund “Crazies”.
Miami beat NC State (RPI 49) pretty handily, and pulled off a dominant performance at Pittsburgh (RPI 41). However, the Canes were unable to pick up a win over Notre Dame (RPI 18) at the Watsco Center, and missed an opportunity to beat a surprisingly high Wake Forest (RPI 25) team on the road. The Canes were able to avoid poor RPI losses, their worst coming at Syracuse (RPI 123), but the committee will want to see them pick up quality wins or else they’re on the wrong side of the bubble. No game will qualify as a must win until the ACC tournament, especially with 8 potentially ranked opponents still on the regular season slate, but Miami needs to kick it into an extra gear sooner rather than later.
How to Watch
When:Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 8:15pm
Where:Cameron Indoor Stadium