The Miami Hurricanes basketball program is in dire straits, as the team has been hit from all angles. No incoming freshman class, injuries, eligibility issues, and now on-court struggles have all made an appearance so far this season. Coach Larranaga and company seemed to have it all under control to start the season, reeling off 5 consecutive wins. After reaching the final of the Wooden Legacy Classic, the season quickly took a turn for the worse, as the Canes dropped a tough game to Seton Hall, which took all the wind out to Miami’s sails. In their first 6 contests, the Canes averaged 83.8 points per game. After losing to Seton Hall, the offense has not been the same, averaging 67.3 points over their last 3 games.
While there’s room for improvement all over the floor, one area of immediate concern is in the frontcourt. The Canes have been dealing with depth issues from the start of the season, as Dewan Hernandez has been held out due to eligibility concerns (he’s still waiting for them to be resolved) and junior center Rodney Miller Jr is currently redshirting. Ebuka Izundu stepped into Hernandez’s role, and has performed admirably with 12 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and Sam Waardenburg has seen his minutes increase this season. Key reserve Deng Gak had given solid minutes off the bench, but was recently lost for the season, meaning that Izundu and Waardenburg have no cover.
Luckily for Miami, their first test comes against Houston Baptist, a team sitting near the bottom of the Southland Conference. The Huskies are currently 3-6, losing 85-61 to Samford on Monday night. They are led by sophomore guard Ian DuBose, who is their top scorer (18 ppg) and rebounder (5.9 rpg). The Huskies do have a productive player down low in senior center Edward Hardt (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), but overall lack the personnel to attack the Canes lack of depth inside.
Miami will continue to look to their talented backcourt for offensive production, as Chris Lykes (16.9 ppg), Zach Johnson (13.7 ppg), and Dejan Vasiljevic (13.1 ppg) have paced the Canes so far. While Miami should win this contest easily, Houston Baptist should not be overlooked, as the Huskies were able to take Wake Forest to the wire earlier this season, losing by only 2 points, 93-91 in a high-scoring affair.
Both teams take the court at 7:00pm ET, and you can watch the game on ACC Network Extra, which can be accessed online at espn.com or through the WatchESPN app.