Preview: Miami thriving on offense, defense ahead of matchup with Florida A&M

TV: ACC Network Extra

Time: 7 p.m.

Miami’s statistics pretty much reflect the margin of victory for the Hurricanes in their first two games — dominant overall except in one area.

That would be free throw shooting.

The 11th-ranked Hurricanes (2-0) shot only 54.1 percent from the stripe (20 of 37) in a 32-point win over Gardner-Webb and a 34-point decision over Navy.

But coach Jim Larranaga hasn’t put his players through any excessive drills to correct that in preparation for Thursday night’s game against Florida A&M (0-2) in the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

“No,” Larranaga said when asked if free throws had been a point of emphasis the last couple of days. “We do a free-throw ladder every day. And the ladder is you compete with a teammate and the guy who wins the competition moves up the ladder. The guy who loses that matchup drops down on the ladder.

“I would say we haven’t shot them nearly as well in games as we have in practice. That needs to change.”

Other numbers reflect the dominance the Hurricanes have displayed since falling behind 7-0 in their opener.

Miami is shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 32.7 from 3-point range and has held their opponents to 32.5 and 27.0, respectively. Rebounding is 90-69 and turnovers 24-30 in its favor.

“I think right now we’re very, very pleased at the defensive end of the floor,” Larranaga said. “The consistency of execution has been very good. The challenge is to maintain confidence, improve the focus if you’re winning by a lot of points.

“So the expression we use all the time is don’t play the score, play the game. It will take care of itself.”

Florida A&M is coming in after losing 67-51 at Grand Canyon and 108-66 at UNLV last weekend. The Rattlers will be playing their third consecutive road game with another coming up at Mississippi State on Saturday.

Coach Robert McCullum is in his first season after spending the last three years as an assistant at Oregon, a Final Four team last season. He announced his plan to rejuvenate a program that has been 17-71 during the last three seasons at the time of his hiring.

“We will play extremely hard, and with a level of toughness that our opponents will always know they’re in for a fight,” he said. “Simply put, I want to be known as the ‘Fighting Rattlers.’”

Larranaga expressed respect for the Rattlers’ athletes.

“They have a 7-foot center. They have a 6-7 stretch four-man that can cause matchup problems for us. Their guards are very athletic,” he said, referring to center Isaiah Martin, forward Javonni Harrell, and guards Marcus Barham and Kamron Reaves.

“And they defensively play multiple defense and can give you some problems if you’re careless with the ball because they are constantly swiping and trying to steal the ball.

“And then they play a zone and try to force you to beat them from the outside. You’ve got to be smart about how you attack their defense.”

After the Rattlers, the Hurricanes will be on the road for the first time to play La Salle on Wednesday night in Reading, Pa.

Categories: Sports

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