GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins will try to avoid their first losing streak of the season as they tangle with the Miami-Florida Hurricanes in an Atlantic Coast Conference tilt at the BankUnited Center.
Maryland had its 13-game winning streak snapped as it suffered a 65-62 setback to Florida State on Wednesday. The Terps had not been defeated since their season-opening, 72-69 loss to Kentucky. This will be just the second true road test for Maryland, which completed a 20-point rout of Northwestern in its only other away game. The Terrapins are collecting wins with ease this season as they are solid on both ends of the floor. They are scoring 76.7 points per contest to rank fourth in the ACC, while they sit just one position back in scoring defense (60.5). Maryland is the best rebounding team in the conference as they own a +12.1 board per game margin on the glass.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes recently improved to 11-3 overall with a huge, 68-59, road victory over North Carolina. The decision extended the Hurricanes' current win streak to three games and made them 2-0 in ACC action. NC State is the only other squad in the conference without a loss in league play. Miami has used stifling defensive play to fuel its success this season. The Hurricanes are holding foes to a mere 59.2 ppg, on well under 40 percent shooting overall (.376).
Last year the teams split the series, with each winning at home. In the game at Miami, the Hurricanes prevailed 90-86 in two overtimes. In College Park, Maryland won 75-70. Miami owns a 12-8 all-time series edge coming into this one.
Star center Alex Len recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but it was not enough for the Terps, who fell to Florida State as they were unable to overcome 18 turnovers. The Seminoles rallied from a 12-point deficit to defeat Maryland, which went 10-for-32 from the floor in the second half. On the season, Len paces the squad with 13.6 points and 8.2 caroms per contest, while sophomore guard Dez Wells is next in line with 11.8 ppg. Both of those players are shooting above 54 percent from the floor and are the primary reasons behind the team's offensive efficiency. Nick Faust (9.5 ppg) and Seth Allen (8.5 ppg, 3.0 apg) are regular contributors for the Terps as well.
Offensively, Miami has been adequate, netting 68.8 ppg on a .495 shooting, but may need to kick it into a higher gear in conference action especially since the team has been without starting center Reggie Johnson (12.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg) of late. Durand Scott has been in a slump as of late, with just 15 points over the course of his last two outings. The senior guard is still registering a team-best 14.4 ppg. Shane Larkin is next in line at 12.7 ppg, followed by Kenny Kadji (12.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Kadji poured in 18 points and came just one rebound shy of a double-double in Miami's win over UNC this week. The Hurricanes' forward needed to provide a huge effort to make up for Johnson's absence, and he will need to do so once again against one of the top rebounding teams in the nation.
Len should be able to use his size and strength to continue his stellar sophomore campaign, but Miami's guard play will determine the outcome of this one.
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