Kenny Kadji

Miami Hurricanes need to ‘regroup’ following Georgia Tech loss

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The Miami Hurricanes have now lost three of four with the latest loss coming by way of a buzzer beater from Georgia Tech on Wednesday night at home.

The once second-ranked team in the nation has unraveled the past few weeks, and head coach Jim Larranaga believes it could just be the wear and tear of a long season, according to Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald. Miami has one more regular season game to get back on track with Saturday afternoon’s home game against Clemson.

“We need to regroup,” said Larranaga. “We need to have a chance to get back physically, mentally and emotionally to a level that we feel good about ourselves.

“We have one game remaining, and we have positioned ourselves to be the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament,”

Although, the Canes appear to be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament, they’ve done everything to give it away. Maybe Miami is tired or maybe the U has peaked, either way it doesn’t look good.

The problems didn’t just arise when Miami was dropped by 15 by Wake Forest. Miami squeaked out a win against Virginia on Feb. 19, which was aided by a defensive miscue when two Cavaliers bit on Shane Larkin’s fake to Kenny Kadji on the perimeter, leaving Reggie Johnson alone for a uncontested layup. Before that, against the Clemson team they meet on Saturday, Miami scored 45 points and still one. It took a late three from Kadji’s, his only three of the day (1-for6), for the Miami to remain perfect in ACC play.

A week ago, Miami allowed Ryan Kelly to go off for 36 after he had been sidelined the previous 13 games. Duke is rolling with Kelly back and the way Miami has looked the past few games, those blowout wins against Duke and North Carolina seem like a distant memory.

The ACC tournament will be packed with competitive games especially if the Canes get the top spot. They have the potential to take on a Virginia team that needs to get some key wins next week as the Cavs sit on the bubble. It could also end with a third encounter with the Blue Devils. A strong showing against Clemson on Senior Day would get the U back in the right direction.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.