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Miami Basketball looks to stay hot at #12 Notre Dame

UM faces another ranked opponent on the road, this time The Fighting Irish, at 2PM EST on ESPN2.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While the Miami Hurricanes (12-4, 2-1)  and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-2,4-1) are both looking like potential ACC contenders, they do have one tangible difference.

The two teams seem to be going in opposite directions, in terms of big man depth with Miami finally getting back 6'10 JUCO transfer Ivan Cruz Uceda:

Notre Dame on the other hand, still does not know (or won't say) if their talented big man, Zach Auguste, will play.

If he does not suit up, it could mean big time production for Uceda, but also improving UM 7 footer Tonye Jekiri, who currently leads the ACC in rebounding (conference games only) at 9.9 a game.

However, winning this game will come down to more than just winning the inside battle.

Notre Dame is 11th in the country in scoring at 82.1 ppg.   And at 4-1 in the ACC, they have a leg up toward a monster season.

6'5 SG Jerian Grant leads the way at 16.3 ppg but also averages an incredible 6.3 apg.  His back court running mate, Demetrius Jackson, is no slouch either at 13.8 and 3.2.

Add to the mix 6'5 do it all threat Pat Connaughton (14.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and 6'7 sharp shooter Steve Vasturia (39.7 % 3P) and you have no shortage of weapons to contain.

UM is going to put some points on the board to keep up, AND play good perimeter defense as well.

Angel Rodriguez has been a catalyst all season for the 'Canes and stepped up even more during conference play (ACC best 22ppg in conference games only).

But the Hurricanes will need big contributions from their own big wings, Sheldon McClellan and Davon Reed, to match the Irish.

Fortunately for UM they have been getting solid play from all over, and they have looked like a deep and talented team since the second half of the UVA game, culminating in a huge 90-74 win over Duke on Tuesday.

''I think this group has a chance to do something really special whether it's this year or next year,'' Miami Coach Jim Larranaga said on Thursday. ''They're getting better.''

The win, which was at Cameron Indoor Arena, ended the Devils 41 game winning streak at home. Earlier this year they ended Florida's 33 game streak in their gym.

''It really specifically has to do with the players and their personality and approach to road games,'' Larranaga added.  ''Our guys -- guys like Angel Rodriguez and Manu Lecomte -- they actually really look forward to going on the road and playing in those kind of confines. Shane Larkin was the same way, Durand Scott was the same way."

So even if Auguste is cleared to play,  this game promises to be a tight one.  Notre Dame is an explosive high, quality foe.

But as Coach L alluded to, this Miami team just might be special.

Prediction: It is tough to see how this one plays out, because of the obvious impact of Auguste's potential absence.  if Auguste can not go, Jekiri would have a huge advantage down low.  Additionally  Uceda, will be eligible for the first time all season, after having to be forced to sit out 17 games because of a vague rule involving International players and how many years ago they graduated H.S. (don't ask me to explain it, I can't).  Cruz Uceda's game is not vertical at all, but he is said to be a big man who can knock down threes and has exceptional hands.  He led the 'Canes in rebounding over their summer tour in Spain.  So for ND,  this is a bad time to be facing the Hurricanes.  They have their full compliment of players for the first time all season, and coming off the win in Cameron are flying high.  Grant scares me to death, and Connaughton is severely underrated. But I think the 'Canes come away with a hard fought win, in a close one 76-72.

Game Day Info: Miami at No. 12 Notre Dame, Jan. 17 2 PM EST.

Miami at No. 12


Jan. 17, 2015 |  2 p.m.


Joyce Center | Notre Dame, Ind.






560 WQAM