CHARLOTTESVILLE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Hurricanes are off to one of the best starts in school history but the team is set to face their first true ACC test.READ MORE: CBS4 Nat Moore Trophy Profile: St. Thomas Aquinas Quarterback Zion Turner
Eighth-ranked Miami (Fla.) can expect an intense Virginia team and a fired-up crowd when the ACC foes meet Tuesday night in Charlottesville, Va.
That’s because the No. 11 Cavaliers are coming off upset road losses at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to drop from a No. 4 ranking while digging themselves an early hole in the conference race.
The Cavaliers, known for their tenacious defense, have been burned by 3-point shooting with the Hokies and Yellow Jackets combining to go 17-of-32 from long range.
“I think we’re a defensive team, but we don’t play like it most games,” senior guard Malcom Brogdon told reporters after the most recent loss. “That’s what I came to Virginia for. We have been in the past couple of years – I’ve been confident that we’re a defensive team. There’s never been ‘I think,’ or a question of it, we’ve just got to reevaluate ourselves.”
The Hurricanes, known mostly for their efficient offense, have given up fewer than 60 points in ACC-opening wins over Syracuse and Florida State.
“I thought our defense was very, very good and it slowed them down,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga told reporters after the win over FSU, which scored 90 points in a loss to No. 5 North Carolina in its previous game. “They are a very explosive team. I thought our individual and team defense was very effective in both halves.”
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ABOUT MIAMI (13-1, 2-0 ACC): The Hurricanes’ top two scorers, senior shooting guard Sheldon McClellan (16.3 points on 55 percent shooting) and backup sophomore point guard Ja’Quan Newton (12.0 points), scored the team’s first 21 points of the second half to help put away the Seminoles.
It was the third game in a row in which Newton has provided a needed boost in the second half – and it was especially helpful in the last two games, with senior starting point guard Angel Rodriguez shooting a woeful 3-of-17 from the field.
Miami struggled to defend the 3-point line in the first seven games of the season, which was costly in its loss to Northeastern, but opponents are hitting only 23.6 percent from long distance in the last seven games after making 41.4 percent in the first seven.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (12-3, 1-2): Brogdon (team-leading 16.5 points) and junior point guard London Perrantes (11.5 points, 3.8 assists) have combined to hit 60-of-135 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range and will provide a good test for Miami’s long-distance defense.
Senior Anthony Gill (15.1 points, 60.9 percent shooting, 6.2 rebounds) is the other double-digit scorer, and with five of the team’s top six scorers shooting better than 50 percent from the field, the Cavaliers have plenty of scoring options.
Look for a spirited start – Virginia will be focused on starting fast after trailing at halftime in four of its last past games.
- The Hurricanes and Cavaliers are shooting an identical 49.7 percent from the floor.
- In last year’s game, a double-overtime win for Virginia in Miami, the Hurricanes slowed down Brogdon (eight points) and Gill (six) but were burned by Perrantes (career-high 26 points).
- Miami is 4-7 in ACC road openers, but three of the wins came against ranked teams – No. 4 Duke in 2015, No. 17 Boston College in 2009 and No. 25 Maryland in 2007.
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