GAME NOTES: The Miami-Florida Hurricanes put their perfect Atlantic Coast Conference record on the line as they visit the Conte Forum for a battle with the Boston College Eagles.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes notched their fourth win in a row on Sunday as they downed Maryland, 54-47, at home to improve to 12-3 on the season. Miami is also 3-0 in ACC play after knocking off both Georgia Tech (62-49) and North Carolina (68-59) convincingly on the road. The Hurricanes' impressive record comes after they endured one of the toughest non-conference slates in the NCAA which included Detroit, Michigan State, Charlotte, UCF, Arizona, and La Salle. They have been playing without starting center Reggie Johnson recently as he recovers from a broken thumb.
The Eagles closed out their non-conference schedule with five consecutive victories after a timid start, but they have gone just 1-2 in ACC play. Boston College opened up the league portion of its schedule with a 78-73 loss to NC State before it earned an 86-75 win at Virginia Tech. On Saturday, Lonnie Jackson poured in 23 points, but it was not enough as Boston College came up short in a 75-72 road loss to Wake Forest.
Boston College holds a 24-15 all-time series lead over Miami, including an 11-7 mark in Chestnut Hill.
Senior forward Julian Gamble has done a decent job filling in for the injured Johnson, as he is producing 9.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per outing since the starter was relegated to the bench. Kenny Kadji paced the squad with 14 points in the victory over Maryland, but it was Miami's defense that delivered the decision. The Terrapins hit just 31.6 percent of their field goal attempts and shot a miserable 3-of-15 from 3-point range. The Hurricanes went 22-of-63 from the floor (34.9 percent), but Trey McKinney Jones and Shane Larkin combined for 22 points and 13 assists to push the team towards another win. Going forward, leading scorer Durand Scott (13.7 ppg) can not afford to have off- nights in conference action as most nights his offensive production will be vital to success. Scott did manage to seal the deal with a fastbreak layup late in the game, but he finished with only six points.
Coach Steve Donahue's team is slightly below the median in the conference in both scoring offense (70.0) and scoring defense (68.4). Both of those averages were exceeded versus the Demon Deacons as the Eagles converted 25-of-33 free throw attempts but allowed Wake Forest to drain 50.9 percent of their field goal tries. Olivier Hanlan (18) and sophomore forward Ryan Anderson (12 points, 10 rebounds) both joined Jackson in double-figures. Anderson is having an all-conference caliber campaign with a near double-double average of 16.7 points and 9.7 boards per outing. Hanlan (13.4 ppg) and Jackson (10.0 ppg) are both assets on the offensive end for Donahue, but the key to success is rookie guard Joe Rahon, who is netting 13.4 points and dishing out 4.1 assists per tilt.
Boston College is not a team ready to compete for the ACC crown, but the pieces are in place for a future run. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they are going to have to face the ACC's dark horse in this one. Miami is thriving even without its star center due to a tremendous focus on defense that is slowing down some of the top players in the nation.
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