Georgia Tech-Miami Preview
Despite losing two of three, including its latest game to its closest pursuer in the ACC, Miami remains in prime position to clinch the league title outright.
The sixth-ranked Hurricanes can accomplish that feat and remain undefeated at home with a fourth straight victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
After securing a share of its first ACC regular-season championship, Miami (23-5, 14-2) failed to clinch the title outright with a 79-76 loss at No. 3 Duke on Saturday. Shane Larkin scored 25 while Kenny Kadji added 17 with 10 rebounds, but the Hurricanes couldn't hold an early seven-point lead and fell short in their rally from 10 down with 2 minutes left.
"We did the best we possibly could," said guard Durand Scott, who had 12 points. "We just move on and try to pick it up for the next game."
With a two-game lead over the Blue Devils, the Hurricanes need a home win over Georgia Tech (15-13, 5-11) or Clemson on Saturday to claim the conference outright and build momentum for the postseason.
"Coach always says you have to move past it, win or lose, and move to the next game," reserve guard Rion Brown said. "(The Duke loss is) behind us. We've just got to concentrate on getting better and getting ready for the ACC tournament.
"Whatever it takes to get that win and get this ACC championship."
Miami has dropped two straight road games and shot 39.4 percent in the last three away from home. However, it's made 48.9 percent and held opponents to 56.8 points and 36.4 percent shooting while going 13-0 at home.
The Hurricanes have held Georgia Tech to 44.7 points and 33.6 percent from the field while winning three straight in the series by an average margin of 15.3. Brown went 9 of 11 from the field and 4 of 6 from 3-point range for a career-high 22 points in a 62-49 win over the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 5.
A loser of three of four, Georgia Tech has little to play for but after the Hurricanes were upset by a sub-.500 Wake Forest squad last month, they won't take anything for granted.
"They're a tough team. We expect them to give us their hardest," said Brown, whose father, Tico, played for the Yellow Jackets in the late 1970s. "We definitely expect them to give their best and we want to give our best."
Larkin scored five points against Georgia Tech in January but had six assists, four rebounds, three steals and one turnover. The sophomore guard averages a team-leading 13.8 points and has totaled 47 while shooting 16 of 28 in the last two contests.
"He has all the ingredients that you want in a point guard," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "He just loves to win, he does everything he can to help his teammates win."
The Yellow Jackets shot a season-low 32.7 percent, were outscored 28-16 in the paint and outrebounded 40-29 on Jan. 5.
Mfon Udofia had a team-high nine points in Georgia Tech's 70-57 home loss to North Carolina State on Sunday.