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Hoops Preview: Miami vs. Middle Tennessee State

After its first loss of the season, how will Miami respond in its final non-conference game?

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping its first game of the season, the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team will look to get back on track when they play Middle Tennessee State on Christmas day at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the last day of the Diamond Head Classic.

The Hurricanes (10-1) struggled to get its offense going in a 63-54 loss to New Mexico State. That loss came less than 24 hours after Miami opened up the Diamond Head Classic with a convincing 75-57 win over host team Hawaii.

MTSU (8-3) has also gone 1-1 this weekend, defeating Princeton 69-67 in the first game of the Classic. They followed that up with a 89-84 loss to USC on Saturday.

Miami will have to get more consistent offense than they have in the first two games of the Classic. Outside of a 42-point outburst in the second half against Hawaii, the Hurricanes have averaged 29 points per half in the first two games this weekend. And three of those four halves, the Hurricanes have either been outplayed or played to a stalemate.

While Miami’s offense as a whole has struggled, sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr. seems to have some of the most struggles on that end of the floor for the Hurricanes. In the two games this weekend, Brown Jr. is shooting 4-of-14 and averaging 8.5 points per game. His best offensive stretch came at the start of the second half against NMSU, when he scored 10 of Miami’s first 13 points and assisted on the three-pointer in about five minutes. Otherwise, he’s been fairly inconspicuous. He will need to get it going more not only for this next game, but if the Hurricanes are to have the success that is expected of them going into conference play and beyond.

The Blue Raiders have lost to of its last three games. Statistically, they’re a little better than middle of the pack in most categories but not elite in anything. Individually, senior forward Nick King is where Miami should focus most of its defensive attention. King ranks 12th nationally in scoring, averaging 22.9 point per game. He also leads MTSU in rebounding (6.9 per game).

NCAA Basketball: Middle Tennessee State at Southern California
Middle Tennessee senior forward Nick King (middle) goes up for a shot against USC in the Diamond Head Classic
Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Senior guard Giddy Potts is the only other Blue Raider player averaging in double-figures scoring at 12.3 per game.

This is Miami’s non-conference finale before they start ACC play on Saturday, December 30 on the road against Pittsburgh.