Shane Larkin about to do something ridiculous! - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The red hot Miami Hurricanes (6-1) travel up to Orlando to take on the UCF Knights (6-2) tonight. The game (8PM EST CBS Sports Network/WQAM) will be Miami's last, prior to traveling to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic (12/22-25).
UM continued their stellar play with a 77-46 thrashing of Charlotte last Friday night. The previously unbeaten 49ers were outmatched by Miami's size and speed. In UCF, the 'Canes will face a team with a little more size. Led by 6'9 Keith Clanton (17.1 ppg 9.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 63% FGs), the Knights are formidable down low. But with Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, and Julian Gamble all playing well, the Hurricanes should be well stocked for the challenge. Durand Scott (16 pts, 12 rebs, 4 asts, 4 stls against Charlotte) continues to play big from his guard spot as well. Miami will need to avoid looking ahead to next week's tournament in Hawaii, where match-ups with Hawaii and potentially Arizona and Sand Diego State loom, in order to be successful.
Central Florida Scouting Report:
UCF has a very nice one-two combo in Clanton and 6'5 G Isaiah Sykes (15.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.0 apg), who is the Knights' version of Durand Scott. UCF has good size at almost every position, and they shoot the ball well (52% FGs as a team). Their Achilles heel appears to be turnovers (17 per game). Sykes had 8 alone in a 79-66 loss to Florida. Nonetheless, with 6'7 F Kasey Wilson (a scorching 62% 3P%) and 6'8 Tristan Spurlock (11.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) chipping in, this is a team with a lot of offensive weapons. They do not have the deepest bench, but their top guys can play.
Series: Miami leads 6-1
Last meeting: Dec. 18, 2010. Miami lost, 84-78 in the Orange Bowl Classic
Johnson Vs Clanton. Clanton is clearly the Knights' best player, and has the size and ability to give Big Reg a run. Reggie, however, seems to relish such challenges. The biggest key will be which guy can stay out of foul trouble. Clanton rarely comes out of the game (34+ minutes a game). If Johnson or Miami's slashing guards can get Clanton in foul trouble, Miami will have a much easier go of it. If Johnson gets in early foul trouble, Clanton will be operating against Julian Gamble and freshman Tonya Jekiri. Both are more then capable, but neither will make him work as hard on the defensive end as Johnson.
Projected Starting Lineups:
F Tristan Spurlock 6'8 230 JR
F Keith Clanton 6'9 250 SR
F Kasey Wilson 6'7 225 SO
G Isaiah Sykes 6'5 215 JR
G Calvin Newell 6'1 200 JR
The 'Canes are making a habit of feeling teams out in the first half, and running them out of the building in the second. Their defensive intensity has been exceptional since the return of Scott. In the meantime Kenny Kadji has found his stroke, and Shane Larkin continues to refine his all-around game. Miami is just too good and too focused right now to lose this contest. It is however on the road, and guys like Wilson seem to always give UM early fits. Look for a close first half, but a dominating performance in the second, as UM says Aloha to the Sunshine State and Aloha Hawaii with a 76-61 win.