No. 25 Miami's Larranaga leery of facing No.5 Duke (Jan 15, 2018)
With his team not having a midweek game to play, Miami coach Jim Larranaga took some time last week to catch some college basketball on television.
What Larranaga saw with Duke handling Pittsburgh was further confirmation of the task his team faces.
His 25th-ranked Hurricanes (13-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) host the No. 5 Blue Devils (15-2, 3-2) on Monday night.
Coming off an 11-point loss at North Carolina State, the Blue Devils smashed Pittsburgh on the road 87-52 last week, holding the Panthers to 33.3 percent shooting (18.2 from 3-point range) and forcing them into 15 turnovers.
"I don't know if there is anybody in college basketball who can beat them if they play like that," he said.
Just to add to the enormity of the task for the Hurricanes, the Blue Devils followed that up with an equally dominating 89-71 rout of Wake Forest Saturday while Larranaga's club was losing for the third time in their last six games, 72-63 at Clemson.
Adding to the chore is the quick, two-day turnaround for the two teams that cuts back on serious preparation time.
Duke seems to have found answers after its loss to the Wolfpack. Miami's 38.1 percent shooting from the field (26.1 on triples) and 50 percent from the line against Clemson plus the inability to close out a tight game is evidence that the Hurricanes are still searching.
"One of the reasons why I think we've enjoyed some success is good preparation, really preparing our players mentally and physically," Larranaga said. "Sometimes preparation physically is rest. Sometimes mental preparation is video.
"But we would much prefer to have several days to prepare an opponent rather than a quick turnaround Saturday to Monday. But everybody in our league has to deal with it so it's not like we're at a disadvantage because the other team has a week to prepare and we don't."
Recent history, however, may be on Miami's side. The Hurricanes have won three of the last six meetings with Duke, including the last two in the Watsco Center home in Coral Gables.
Also, the status of coach Mike Krzyzewski, who missed the win over Wake Forest because of a flu virus, may be uncertain and Duke has to travel to South Florida on the day between games.
"It's going to be new for the freshman, especially being in the ACC," freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. said. "It's always tough games, but with the quick turnaround, we've just got to get our minds set. Not to forget about this game -- enjoy the victory we had -- but to put it in the back of our minds and get ready for Miami."
With his 13.4 points-per-game average, Carter is one of five players averaging double figures in scoring for the Blue Devils. Freshman forward Marvin Bagley III is the leader in both scoring (22.5 points per game) and rebounds (11.7).
Sophomore forward Dewan Huell leads Miami in scoring (13.6) and sophomore guard Bruce Brown is Miami's top rebounder (7.1).