CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The early part of the season has gone well for the most part, but the Miami Hurricanes are still looking to improve.
Hosting a South Carolina State team on Tuesday that has lost three games by more than 40 points, Miami coach Jim Larranaga should be able to experiment with his lineup as the Hurricanes continue to prepare for the start of ACC play on Dec. 31.
Five-star recruits Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown already have displaced Ebuka Izundu and Anthony Lawrence Jr. as starters, and Larranaga likely will give fellow freshman Dejan Vasiljevic – a 3-point marksman – more minutes against the Bulldogs.
The Hurricanes are coming off a 74-57 victory over Wofford in which they squandered all but three points of a double-digit, first-half lead before putting together a 12-1 run and cruising to victory.
Larranaga came away pleased with his team’s ability to follow through on its game plan to shut down Wofford’s 3-point shot – the Terriers finished 5-of-23 from long distance – and junior point guard Ja’Quan Newton’s improved orchestration of the offense.
Newton, known more for his scoring than his passing, dished out nine assists after recording only three (with six turnovers) in Miami’s win over Rutgers.
The Bulldogs’ victories have come against Division II St. Andrews and Voorhees, an NAIA school, while their average margin of defeat has been 32 points.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (2-5): James Richardson, the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game, hit 4-of-8 3-pointers on his way to a 25-point performance as the Bulldogs overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat Voorhees and end their four-game losing streak.
Senior guard Eric Eaves is the only other Bulldog averaging in double figures in points (13.1) while Tashombe Riley (9.9 points), who scored 13 against Voorhees, and Ian Kinard are the team’s leading rebounders (4.3).
The team’s shooting numbers – 40 percent, including 26 percent on 3-pointers – don’t bode well considering Miami’s field-goal percentage defense (37.1) ranks No. 19 in the nation.
ABOUT MIAMI (6-2): The ability of Newton (16.1 points, 3.8 assists) to improve as both the team’s top scorer and its floor general, along with the expected growth of Huell (9.1, 5.4 rebounds) and Brown (9.9, 6.3), will go a long way in determining the Hurricanes’ fate once the conference season begins.
The 6-11 Huell and senior Kamari Murphy (7.1 points, team-leading 8.3 rebounds) anchor an interior defense that has blocked a combined 13 shots in the last two games.
After a slow start, senior guard Davon Reed (12.4 points) seems to be finding his shooting touch while Vasiljevic (six points, 41.3 percent on 3-pointers) hit a pair of key shots from beyond the arc in Miami’s decisive second-half run against Wofford after a few quiet offensive performances.
- Miami, which ranks 21st in free-throw percentage (77.3 percent), is 37-of-43 in its last two games.
- Murphy is shooting 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the foul line after hitting only 55.8 percent (24-of-43) as a junior.
- Senior G Greg Mortimer is the only Bulldog shooting over 30 percent from 3-point range (8-of-17, 47.1 percent).
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