Miami Hurricanes

Jim Larranaga
Associated Press

Iowa State, Miami part of 2016 AdvoCare Invitational field

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Friday afternoon the field for the 2016 AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando was announced, with Puerto Rico Tip-Off champion Miami being one of the eight teams involved.

Joining Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes in Orlando will be Florida, Gonzaga, Indiana State, Iowa State, Quinnipiac, Seton Hall and Stanford. Gonzaga has won the event in each of its prior two appearances, doing so in 2008 and 2012.

Each of the other seven teams will be making their first appearance at the AdvoCare Invitational.

Angel Rodriguez, Miami take home Puerto Rico Tipoff title

Angel Rodriguez
Associated Press
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Miami’s depth and talent were certainly on display this weekend as they won the Puerto Rico Tipoff, beating No. 22 Butler 85-75 in Sunday’s title game. And it was clear all weekend that their hopes of contending in the ACC this season will ultimately hinge on the play of senior point guard Angel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez produced more positive plays than negative all weekend in San Juan, performing well in his return to the island he calls home. And if Jim Larrañaga’s team is to make a run at their first ACC title since 2013, that will have to be the case as the Hurricanes play in even bigger games when conference play begins.

Rodriguez accounted for 17 points and three assists, but he also had four turnovers with three coming during a second-half stretch in which Butler mounted its rally. The first half for Miami was, when factoring in the caliber of the opponent, as good a half of basketball they’ve played all year. Even better than what they did in the first half of the win over Mississippi State on Thursday, because Butler is a team that will hear its name called Selection Sunday.

The Hurricanes’ length and athleticism caused problems for Butler at both ends of the floor, as the Bulldogs shot 40.7 percent from the field, and Miami was able to shoot 52.9 percent. Half of Miami’s 18 first half field goals were assisted, with Butler’s help side defenders paying the price for being too quick to help in an attempt to take away driving lanes.

Tonye Jekiri accounted for eight points and seven rebounds, finishing with 12 and 12, and backup point guard Ja’Quan Newton scored eight of his 17 and dished out three assists during the first stanza. Whatever Miami wanted to get done they were able to in the first half, leading by as much as 19 and taking a 13-point lead into the break.

Butler improved on both ends of the floor in the second half, and with Miami not playing with the same efficiency the Bulldogs were able to climb back into the game. Managing the game is where point guard play comes in, which is why Rodriguez is the most important piece for Miami as they look to compete with the likes of North Carolina, Duke and Virginia atop the ACC.

When he’s on Rodriguez can be one of the ACC’s top point guards, and by extension the Hurricanes are an ACC contender. But when he struggles, even with their depth the Hurricanes have the appearance of a team that’s a bit scattered on the court. Outside of a few minutes Sunday night Miami got “good Rodriguez” in Puerto Rico, and as a result they head back to the mainland with the Puerto Rico Tipoff trophy in tow.

And if this group is to have a chance of reaching the heights last seen by Shane Larkin and company, that will have to be the case during ACC play as well.

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: Three ACC teams, No. 21 Purdue win tournament titles

Grayson Allen, Reggie Cameron
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY:  No. 5 Duke 86, Georgetown 84

In the finals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, Grayson Allen went for 32 points as the Blue Devils rallied then held off the Hoyas for the win.

I went more in-depth on this game here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 21 Purdue 85, Florida 70: Matt Painter’s Boilermakers ran off a 12-0 second half run to take control of their game against the Gators in Uncasville, Connecticut. Their depth, talent and commitment to the defensive end make the Boilermakers a team to watch in the Big Ten. More can be read about them here.

Miami 85, No. 22 Butler 75: The Hurricanes won the Puerto Rico Tipoff, grabbing control in the first half and hanging on after the Bulldogs managed to cut the deficit to four with just over three minutes remaining. Angel Rodriguez scored 19 points and Ja’Quan Newton added 17 and three assists off the bench.

East Tennessee State 69, Georgia Tech 68: Ge’Lawn Guyn buried the game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds left as the Buccaneers picked up a big road win at Georgia Tech. Guyn finished with 24 points and seven rebounds to pace East Tennessee State, who moves to 3-1 on the season. Marcus Georges-Hunt led Georgia Tech with 20 points, as the Yellow Jackets took a bad loss at home.

Wisconsin 74, VCU 73: A Bronson Koenig spin move and layup with seven seconds remaining was the difference as the Badgers beat the Rams in a thriller at Madison Square Garden. Koenig led four Badgers in double figures with 22 points. Melvin Johnson, whose three-pointer as time expired missed the mark, led VCU with 21 points.

STARRED

Shavar Newkirk, Saint Joseph’s: Newkirk buried a long two with one second left to break a 64-all tie as the Hawks escaped with a win over Old Dominion. Newkirk had 10 points in the game. 

Grayson Allen, Duke: Allen’s 32 points capped a good weekend in New York for the sophomore, as he scored a total of 62 points in wins over VCU and Georgetown.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah: Poeltl racked up 32 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the Runnin’ Utes’ 74-68 win over Temple at the Puerto Rico Tipoff.

Jarrelle Reischel, Eastern Kentucky: Reischel racked up 37 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the Colonels’ 110-97 win over Longwood.

STRUGGLED

Kasey Hill and DeVon Walker, Florida: Hill and Walker combined to shoot 2-for-13 from the field in the Gators’ 85-70 loss to No. 21 Purdue.

Aaron Bacote, Old Dominion: Bacote scored nine points, making all seven of his free throw attempts, but he shot just 1-for-7 from the field in a two-point loss to Saint Joseph’s.

Northwestern State’s turnover count: The Demons were in trouble at No. 12 Arizona, especially with Jalan West out for the year with a torn ACL. But 18 turnovers with just four assists in the 61-42 loss isn’t good.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 11 Villanova rebounded from a slow start to beat Akron 75-56 in an unbracketed Preseason NIT matchup. Josh Hart led the way with 27 points and nine rebounds, and Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
  • No. 16 Utah held off Temple 74-68 to win third place at the Puerto Rico Tipoff. The key stat in this one: Jakob Poeltl, who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, shot 12-for-14 from the foul line. The sophomore shot 44 percent from the charity stripe last season.
  • No. 25 Oregon held off Valparaiso 73-67 in Eugene, as Dillon Brooks leading the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Tevonn Walker paced the Crusaders with 14 points.
  • No. 12 Arizona moved to 4-0 on the season with a 61-42 win over Northwestern State. Gabe York scored 18 to lead the way, with forward Ryan Anderson (ankle) being held out.
  • No. 6 Virginia won the Charleston Classic title, beating surprising finalist George Mason 83-66. Tournament MVP London Perrantes racked up 16 points and 11 assists, and Malcolm Brogdon scored a game-high 21 points.

NOTABLES

  • Cincinnati earned a big win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff as Farad Cobb went for 20 points. The Bearcats are 4-0 but they haven’t played any real competition yet.
  • Boston College erupted for 53 points in the second half  as they beat Harvard at home. Matt Milon paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points.
  • Tennessee had big games from Kevin Punter (24 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Devon Baulkman (22 points) and Armani Moore (15 points, 16 rebounds) as they cruised past Gardner-Webb.
  • Gavin Ware had 25 points as Mississippi State beat Missouri State in a consolation game at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
  • Tulsa advanced to the title game of the Paradise Jam with a 67-59 win over Indiana State. James Woodard tallied 16 points and ten rebounds for the Golden Hurricane.
  • Oklahoma State made things a little more interesting than they had to be down the stretch, but the Cowboys hung on for a five-point win over Long Beach State to win third place at the Charleston Classic.
  • South Carolina advanced to the Paradise Jam title game with a 94-84 win over Hofstra. All five Gamecock starters reached double figures, with Lamonicus Chatkevicius scoring a team-high 18 points. Juan’ya Green scored 28 points and dished out seven assists for the Pride, but it wasn’t enough to advance.
  • Joe Rahon put on a show in leading Saint Mary’s to a 78-61 win over Stanford, racking up 24 points, six rebounds and three assists. Emmett Naar and Evan Fitzner scored 15 apiece for the Gaels, with Naar also dishing out six assists.

Miami serves notice with blowout of No. 16 Utah

Sheldon McClellan
Associated Press
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Picked to finish fifth in the ACC preseason poll, head coach Jim Larrañaga’s Miami Hurricanes were considered by some to be a sleeper in the conference title race. After the Hurricanes’ showing Friday night against No. 16 Utah, it may be time to give them even more credit than that.

Sheldon McClellan scored 27 points and fellow senior Tonye Jekiri was a star in the post, accounting for a career-high 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds, as Miami blew out the Runnin’ Utes by the final score of 90-66. While Utah’s first half foul trouble didn’t help matters, Miami took over from the start and didn’t look back. The Hurricanes were efficient offensively, shooting 53.4 percent from the field, 9-for-17 from three and committing just seven turnovers.

By comparison Utah committed 16 turnovers and Miami made them pay for many of those mistakes, racking up 22 points off of turnovers. Larry Krystkowiak’s team shot the ball well, making half of their shots from the field. But when you lose the turnover battle as decisively as they did,  field goal percentage doesn’t matter much at all.

Angel Rodriguez was solid at the point against a team still looking to account for what was lost at the position with Delon Wright’s graduation, scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists with just one turnover. Miami isn’t a team that will post a high assist rate due to their use of the dribble to get things going offensively, and Friday night just 13 of their 31 field goals were assisted.

But when they’re clicking things open up by way of the ball screen, either for the ball-handler, screener or wings, or breaking down their man off the dribble. Utah looked to a zone defense at times to slow down the Hurricanes but they couldn’t find the right answer for either McClellan or Jekiri, with Miami’s two leading scorers combining to shoot 18-for-22 from the field.

Next up for Miami is No. 22 in the title game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff Sunday night, giving them one more chance to make a national statement before returning stateside. Given the expectations surrounding North Carolina, Duke and Virginia, it would be unfair to paint Miami’s placement in the preseason ACC poll as some kind of “disrespect.” If anything, when combined with the Hurricanes’ play in San Juan it simply shows just how deep the conference will be this season.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Semifinals in Charleston, New York and San Juan

Lorenzo Bonam, Jordan Jackson
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Utah vs. Miami, 7:00 pm. (ESPNU)

The second semifinal at the Puerto Rico Tipoff could be the best game of the day in college basketball, as a ranked Utah team will look to get past a Miami squad that has the look of a dark horse in the ACC. The key for the Runnin’ Utes, not only Friday but moving forward, will be to find that offensive option who can take over the “end of shot clock” role Delon Wright filled his last two seasons. Lorenzo Bonam played well against Texas Tech, but he’ll have a tough matchup opposite Angel Rodriguez.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 5 Duke vs. VCU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Blue Devils are back in action after falling to No. 2 Kentucky at the Champions Classic, this time taking on a VCU team that will pressure full-court. VCU’s “Havoc” could cause problems for a Duke team whose point guard situation has yet to be sorted out. As for the Rams, they’ll have to figure out a way to keep Amile Jerrferson and Marshall Plumlee off the boards after both putting together solid possessions late.

SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. Xavier hits the road for the first time this season, taking on No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor (9:00 p.m., BTN) as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Zak Irvin’s back in the lineup for the Wolverines, and with all of their pieces available Michigan is a team to keep an eye on in the Big Ten. But the same goes for Xavier in the Big East, as Jalen Reynolds and company should contend.

2. No. 2 Kentucky is back in action, hosting Wright State (8:00 p.m., SEC Network) three days after beating No. 5 Duke at the Champions Classic. The expectation is that the Wildcats will take care of business comfortably, especially with the Raiders arriving in Lexington as losers of two straight games. If the young Wildcats can put this one away early, that would speak to the team’s ability to move forward from a big win and focus on the task at hand.

3. Speaking of moving on from big wins, No. 3 Maryland hosts Rider in a game that could be trickier than some expect if Teddy Okereafor gets going for the Broncs. Okereafor’s gotten off to a slow start for the expected MAAC contenders, and he’s a key piece for this team on the perimeter. As for the Terps, their versatile and talented roster continuing to mesh with an eye towards bigger goals as the season wears on is what should be watched for in this contest.

4. The Paradise Jam begins today, with four games being played on the US Virgin Islands. The best matchup could be Hofstra taking on Florida State (3:30 p.m., CBSSN), with both teams possessing explosive backcourt rotations. The Pride are led by Juan’ya Green, Brian Bernardi and Ameen Tanksley, and Leonard Hamilton will counter with a deep rotation led by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. The Seminoles, who are the better defensive team of the two, have the talent needed to contend in the ACC. An impressive weekend at the Paradise Jam could help them gain some attention nationally.

5. No. 22 Butler looks to continue its offensive fireworks in San Juan as they take on Temple in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tipoff (1:00 p.m., ESPN2). Tyler Lewis has been outstanding at the point, setting up the Bulldogs for a host of quality scoring opportunities whether in the half court or out in transition. The Owls don’t lack for talent themselves with senior forward Jaylen Bond leading the way, and the return of stretch forward Obi Enechionyia helped them in a big way against Minnesota.

6. A shorthanded Georgetown squad looks to avoid its first-ever 0-3 start, as they take on Wisconsin at the 2K Classic in New York City (5:00 p.m., ESPN2). Paul White missed the first two games with a hip injury and Tre Campbell didn’t make the trip due to illness, with the latter’s absence leaving the Hoyas with just two available scholarship guards. Now those two (D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and L.J. Peak) are very good, but they’ll have their hands full with a Wisconsin perimeter attack led by Bronson Koenig.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Long Beach State vs. No. 6 Virginia (Charleston Classic), 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • East Tennessee State at No. 11 Villanova, 7:00 p.m. (FS2)
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff at No. 13 Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • McNeese State at No. 8 Oklahoma, 8:00 p.m.
  • Jackson State at No. 20 Baylor, 8:00 p.m.
  • Savannah State at No. 25 Oregon, 11:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
  • East Carolina at No. 15 California, 11:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Ohio vs. Tulsa (Paradise Jam), 1:00 p.m.
  • George Mason vs. Oklahoma State (Charleston Classic), 1:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Murray State at Georgia, 7:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • Columbia at Northwestern, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

Miami continues big day with five-star 2016 commitment

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Miami picked up its second commitment of the day on Wednesday, this time landing in-state, five-star power forward Dewan Huell. The native of Miami joins four-star guard Bruce Brown as the second player of the day who pledged to the Hurricanes.

The 6-foot-9 Huell is a monster grab for head coach Jim Larranaga because he’s keeping a talented local prospect home and Huell is the type of forward who could be immediately productive. An active big man who can rebound or score running the floor or in the post, Huell is regarded as the No. 23 overall prospect in the Class of 2016.

By adding Huell, Brown and four-star big man Rodney Miller, Miami has put themselves in position to be very competitive in the ACC the next few seasons and they’re doing everything they can to stay in the conference’s arms race.