Miami Hurricanes

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Deonte Burton #30 of the Iowa State Cyclones defends against the Oklahoma Sooners during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Deonte Burton, No. 21 Iowa State breeze past Miami

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A day after the Cyclones struggled to knock off Indiana State, No. 21 Iowa State pulled away late to knock off Miami is what was their best performance of the year to date.

Iowa State won 73-56, and in a vacuum, that score is promising. The question mark with this team is on the defensive end of the floor, and holding a team like Miami to 56 points is unquestionably a good performance.

But there’s more to this that we need to talk about.

For starters, Iowa State’s win came in a game where Monte’ Morris and Naz Long barely showed up. Morris had just six points and five assists while shooting 2-for-8 from the floor while Long was 4-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-9 from three. Entering the year, those were arguably Iowa State’s two best and most important players.

And then there is Deonte Burton. He’s the guy that can be called the x-factor for this team. A freak of an athlete, Burton is a versatile, 6-foot-5 forward that Iowa State needs to play something of a Draymond Green role is they are going to be as good as their fan base wants them to be. On Friday, he looked like he could be that guy. Playing by far his best game of the season, Burton finished with 21 points and seven boards, hitting his first two threes of the season and setting the tone early.

It’s a promising performance for the Cyclones, who will play the winner of No. 11 Gonzaga and Florida in the Advocare Invitational title game on Sunday.

Miami suspends guard Muhammad three games

AP
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Miami will be down a guard when it begins the season Friday.

Rashad Muhammad, a transfer from San Jose State, will be suspended for the Hurricanes’ first three games of the season, the school announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot-6 guard will miss Miami’s contest with Western Carolina on Friday and then games next week at North Florida and against Penn. The suspension is for a violation of team rules.

Muhammad averaged 13.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists while shooting 36.0 percent from 3-point range for San Jose State in 2014-15. He sat out at Miami last season under NCAA transfer rules.

Muhammad will be eligible to return to action on Thanksgiving when the Hurricanes, who were picked ninth in the ACC preseason poll, play Stanford at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Iowa State, Gonzaga, Seton Hall and Florida are also in the field as potential ‘Canes opponents.

 

Iowa State, Miami part of 2016 AdvoCare Invitational field

Jim Larranaga
Associated Press
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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.