Notre Dame-Miami Preview
Notre Dame's experience proved to be an edge in two wins over Miami last season.
Since the No. 17 Hurricanes now have that advantage, Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey has added senior Austin Burgett to his starting lineup and been boosted by Demetrius Jackson returning to it as his club seeks to end Miami's eight-game home win streak Wednesday night.
Miami (16-4, 5-3 ACC) boasts plenty of experience with a lineup consisting of returning senior starters in Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Tonye Jekiri along with junior guard Davon Reed and Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy.
"We have seniors in Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, Tonye Jekiri who we felt like had the skill, the mind-set and the experience to be good senior leaders and they are in the starting lineup," coach Jim Larranaga said. "Kamari Murphy has earned that other starting position along with Davon Reed, who has basically been a starter for three years so we have a lot of experience."
The Hurricanes now have the advantage in that department over the Fighting Irish after losing twice last season when Notre Dame (15-6, 6-3) had Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton, who have graduated and are both in the NBA.
Zach Auguste, averaging 14.0 points, is the only senior to start every game in 2015-16 for the Irish. Jackson is a junior who leads the team in scoring (16.5 ppg) and assists (5.2 per game).
Notre Dame had its four-game win streak end when Jackson sat out with a hamstring injury in last Thursday's 81-66 loss at Syracuse. He returned Sunday with 14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a career-high six steals in an 85-62 rout of Wake Forest.
"I think I've got the best point guard in the country and when he's not in there, it's tough," Brey said.
Brey surprisingly gave Burgett his first start in two seasons, and the forward responded with 14 points in 25 minutes after logging eight minutes of scoreless ACC play all season.
"The last month of practice, he's been fabulous and he really hasn't been in a white shirt, he's been playing against the white shirts and quite frankly, kicking them in the backside," Brey said.
The coach said that the move was made in preparation for games this week against opponents with veteran players in Miami and second-ranked North Carolina.
The Fighting Irish are aware of the threat posed by Ja'Quan Newton, one of the best reserves in the country. Newton scored a season-high 16 against them in last season's first meeting, and he's emerged as the Hurricanes' second-best scorer with 11.9 points per game.
"I play him more and more because he's earned it, but I like him in that (reserve) role because he can sub for any of the three perimeter players," Larranaga said.
Miami's average victory margin in four ACC home games is 12.8 points. The Hurricanes are eager to get back on track after allowing North Carolina State to shoot 50.9 percent in Saturday's 85-69 defeat.
"Miami is a confident team, they've played together for a while," Brey said. "They're men, they're older, they really have the ability to score the ball. We're going to have to be really good and really mentally and physically tough on Wednesday."
These teams last met in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, with Notre Dame winning 70-63 en route to the title. However, the Irish lost their only trip to Miami since joining the conference, and the Hurricanes are riding their longest home winning streak since the 2012-13 season.