South Alabama-Miami Preview
Miami extended its best start in five years, broke into the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons and won a tournament title during its 11-day trip across three states.
Perhaps most importantly, Sheldon McClellan developed some confidence in his shot.
As the junior guard looks to stay on a roll, the 17th-ranked Hurricanes will try to remain undefeated as they begin a five-game homestand Friday night against South Alabama.
After jumping into the AP poll for the first time since the final rankings of the 2012-13 season, Miami (6-0) continued its best start since opening 8-0 in ’09-10 with a 77-74 road win over Charlotte on Tuesday.
The Hurricanes also topped the 49ers 77-58 in the Charleston Classic championship game two days earlier.
Miami has shot an impressive 50.5 percent from the field, including 47.5 from 3-point range, while sweeping its past five games away from home. That stretch began with a victory at then-No. 8 Florida that snapped the Gators’ 33-game home winning streak.
"It has been a long run and we accomplished a lot during this trip," said Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez after finishing with 14 points and six assists Tuesday.
Jim Larranaga told his coaching staff that getting McClellan to realize his potential had to be a priority after he transferred from Texas last year. They’re closer to reaching that goal in the wake of his recent performance.
After missing 10 of 12 from 3-point range to open the season, McClellan hit 5 of 7 on the way to a career-high 31 points along with 11 rebounds at Charlotte. He also sank two free throws with eight seconds left to help thwart a 49ers’ comeback.
McClellan is averaging 22.3 points while shooting 62.8 percent from the field in his last three games after scoring a combined 14 on 6-of-17 shooting in his previous two.
"I’m getting a little more confident in my 3-point shooting," said McClellan, averaging a team-high 16.7 points. "The last few games I haven’t been that confident."
Manu Lecomte added 18 points with four 3-pointers Tuesday as the Hurricanes shot 14 of 23 from beyond the arc, coming within one of the school record for 3s made.
South Alabama (1-2) has limited its last two opponents to 7 of 30 from 3-point range and 37.5 percent from the field but lost both games on the road.
Taishaun Johnson recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds Saturday, but the Jaguars shot 32.7 percent and committed a season-high 22 turnovers in a 66-53 loss at Detroit. They’ve missed 38 of 48 from 3-point range in their last two games.
"To have 22 turnovers is inexcusable and then to compound that, shooting 12 for 23 from the free-throw line, it’s a sign that guys weren’t ready to play and weren’t focused," coach Matthew Graves told the team’s official website. "That starts with me and I’ve got to do a better job of getting those guys ready to play."
The Hurricanes held opponents to 36.1 percent shooting in three games at the Charleston Classic before letting Charlotte hit 49.2 percent Tuesday and forcing a season-low eight turnovers.
South Alabama, which has never faced Miami, has won two of its last three road games versus ranked opponents. The Jaguars won at Florida State in November 2012 and Florida in December 2009.