Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
When we last saw the Miami Hurricanes (5-1) they had completed an impressive run with a win at UMass. Tonight they return to action (7PM EST Fox Sports South/WQAM) with a visit from the undefeated Charlotte 49ers (9-0).
The 'Canes were at their best in defeating Detroit, Michigan State, and Massachusetts. They will need to continue to show that type of effort to beat a surprising and gritty Charlotte team. Durand Scott's return has keyed the UM surge, but Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones have also been stellar all season long. Especially encouraging is the return to form of big men Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson. Miami's biggest advantage over the athletic 49ers could very well be down low. UM's outside shooting has also really picked up during the run. Rion Brown is starting to pick it up. If he gets going, and adds to the Hurricanes' arsenal, watch out! The key thing to watch in this game is how sharp the team is following the layoff. Miami will need to be especially diligent taking care of the ball against a very quick team. It's not likely UM takes Charlotte likely.
"I know Charlotte is a great team," guard Shane Larkin said. "We just have to come out with focus and energy and not just take that `We're good now, are 5-1, have four wins in a row,' can't be calm."
Charlotte Scouting Report:
The 49ers are off to the best start in school history. They have not exactly played a who's who of College Basketball to this point, but do have nice wins over Davidson and East Carolina. A closer look at this squad reveals an athletic and tough bunch who have made clutch plays down the stretch of close games to bolster their terrific start. Charlotte is lead by 6'9 senior F Chris Braswell (14.3 ppg 7.0 rpg) and 6'5 junior guard Demario Mayfield (10.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 2.0 apg), both of whom come off the bench. Sophomore G Pierra Henry (7.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 4.1 apg) does a little bit of everything, and has been particularly clutch of late. If they have a weakness it's outside shooting. Charlotte has knocked down just 29% of their shots from downtown.
Series: Miami trails 3-4
Last meeting: Dec. 22, 2011. Miami won, 76-61 in Charlotte
Best Match-up: Braswell Vs Kadji
Not only do they have similar builds,they also have similar games. Both can score in a variety of ways, including knocking down long distance jumpers. Braswell comes off the bench for the 49ers, but leads the team in scoring. Kadji has struggled with his outside shot this year, but is too good a shooter for that to continue. Tonight he will need to bring his A game on defense as well as make Braswell work on the other end of the court. Keeping him off the offensive glass will also be key.
Projected Starting Lineups:
F Willie Clayton 6'7 236 FR
F Darion Clark 6'6 233 FR
F Denzel Ingram 5'11 173 FR
G Pierra Henry 6'4 200 SO
G Terrance Williams 6'4 210 SO
I wouldn't be surprised if Miami gets off to a slow start following the long break. Charlotte is going to come out and play hard, and UM will need to match that intensity. The 49ers are not the biggest team, but their scrappy nature is evident by in their penchant for offensive rebounds (nearly 12 a game). Of course they get plenty of opportunities as they miss a ton of outside shots. The Hurricanes have been especially stout at making adjustments and shutting teams down in the second half. Look for that to continue. Shane Larkin will take this game over at some point, unless Reggie Johnson gets going first. Miami dominates the second half on the way to a 72-59 win.