Miami-Georgia Tech Preview (Jan 03, 2018)
Miami plays the last of a stretch of six consecutive games away from home -- four on opponents' courts plus two neutral-site affairs -- when the 15th-ranked Hurricanes visit Georgia Tech on Wednesday night in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets (6-7, 0-1 ACC) have lost six of their last eight games but second-year coach Josh Pastner still thinks his team has potential.
"It's going to come together," Pastner said after his team's 68-59 loss to Notre Dame in its last outing. "There's going to be highs and lows, and there's been highs and lows already this season. But I do believe we still are a dangerous team.
"We've just got to keep building and getting better and the scoreboard will turn out our way. I do believe we are going to be a dangerous team in the ACC. We have another great opportunity on Wednesday versus Miami."
Miami (12-1, 1-0) has won its last two outings after suffering its first loss of the season 63-54 to New Mexico State in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. It handled Pittsburgh with relative ease 67-53 in its ACC opener last weekend.
The Hurricanes outscored the Panthers 9-0 over the last two minutes of the first half and led by double digits throughout the second. They were up by 21 at one point, and it marked the ninth time in 13 games they had held an opponent to under 60 points.
Georgia Tech is averaging only 66.5 points for the season but has upped that average to just under 71 since the return of guard Josh Okogie to the lineup. Okogie missed the first eight games because of a finger injury and an NCAA-mandated suspension for receiving impermissible benefits.
Okogie has averaged a team-best 18.0 points in his five outings, but the key for the Yellow Jackets against Miami likely will be center Ben Lammers. The 6-foot-10 senior is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds for Georgia Tech and has five double-doubles this season.
Lammers averaged 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds last season and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He had 15 points but only three rebounds in last season's 70-61 loss to Miami.
"We're going to go as Ben goes," Pastner said. "Everything we do offensively and defensively goes through Ben so if he plays well we're going to win a lot of games, and if he doesn't, it's just going to be hard for us."
If Lammers is on his game, that will put the onus on 6-11 sophomore forward Dewan Huell, who has taken over Miami's scoring lead with his 13.5 average. He averages 6.3 rebounds, second on the team to guard Bruce Brown's 7.2 mark.
"I think now he's much more confident in his scoring ability," coach Jim Larranaga said of Huell. "I'd like to see him rebound more because I know he's more capable of that.
"This team needs better rebounding. We're going to be devoting a lot of our time in these coming weeks to making sure we can keep people off the offensive boards."