Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - A top-25 showdown is on tap at PNC Arena on
Saturday afternoon, as the 19th-ranked NC State Wolfpack play host to the
14th-ranked Miami Hurricanes in a key Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes are one of the real surprises not only in the ACC,
but on the national level, as they are sporting a stellar 16-3 overall record.
Things have only gotten better in ACC play, with Miami sitting atop the
conference standings with a flawless 7-0 mark. Miami is the first ACC school
with the exception of Duke and North Carolina to start the league slate out
7-0. Miami is 9-0 at home, but has taken care of business on the road as well
at 7-1, including a 73-64 victory at Virginia Tech last time out.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack were considered by many to be the best team in the
conference coming into the season. The Wolfpack have certainly shown flashes
of that, with a 16-5 overall record. League play has been a little more
testing, with NC State coming in at 5-3. All three of the team's league losses
have come on the road, including a 58-55 setback at Virginia this week. The
Wolfpack however, are a perfect 12-0 in Raleigh.
NC State holds a 9-4 edge in the all-time series with Miami and has won all
six matchups in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes struggled to contain the nation's leading scorer, as Virginia
Tech's Erick Green erupted for 30 points, but Miami held the rest of the
Hokies in check and earned yet another road win in Blacksburg. Shane Larkin
almost matched Green's output with a team-high 25 points for Miami, while
Kenny Kadji and Trey McKinney Jones finished with 18 and 12 points,
It isn't explosive scoring that fuels the Miami attack, but rather stingy
defense. The Hurricanes are among the nation's best in terms of scoring
defense (58.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.371). Despite modest
offensive numbers overall, there is balance at that end of the floor, with
four of the five starters averaging double figures. Durand Scott leads the
team with 13.8 ppg. He is followed by Kadji (13.3 ppg), Larkin (12.9 ppg), and
McKinney Jones (10.2 ppg). The team was without the services of center Reggie
Johnson for a while due to injury, but his return to the floor can only
bolster Miami's play, as 6-foot-10 senior is averaging a near double-double
(9.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg).
The Miami defense will be put to the test in Raleigh, as NC State boasts of
one of the nation's most explosive attacks. The Wolfpack are averaging 78.6
ppg on an impressive .503 shooting, including .400 from 3-point range. The
scoring pool is deep, with five players averaging double figures, led by C.J.
Leslie's 15.6 ppg. Leslie's play in the frontcourt is bolstered by Richard
Howell (12.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg), T.J. Warren (12.1 ppg) and Scott Wood (11.6 ppg,
54 3-pointers). All-American candidate Lorenzo Brown (12.7 ppg, 6.9 apg)
handles the point and is joined in the backcourt by solid freshman Rodney
Purvis (9.6 ppg).
As offensively talented as NC State is, the Wolfpack, like many other teams,
struggled to find their rhythm against the Cavaliers last time out. NC State
blew a seven-point halftime lead by shooting just .348 from the floor in the
second half, while allowing Virginia to score 14 points off 14 turnovers. The
loss spoiled strong outings by both Leslie and Howell, who notched double-
doubles. Leslie finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Howell checked
in with 12 points and 11 boards.
The Sports Network