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Notre Dame Basketball: Miami Hurricanes Game Preview

The Fighting Irish look to stay hot against the slumping Hurricanes

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With wins in three of their last four games, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to stay hot on Monday night when the Miami-Florida Hurricanes come to South Bend. It’s another quick turnaround for both teams, but Miami has been heading in the opposite direction with losses in three straight games. During the losing streak, the Hurricanes are shooting less than 40 percent from the floor and have scored an average of just 58 points per game.

This is a must-win situation for the Fighting Irish if they hope to make things interesting on selection Sunday. Notre Dame is peaking at the right time too, with D.J. Harvey on the verge of returning from his knee injury (even though he suffered a setback during practice on Friday) and Bonzie Colson potentially able to return for the last regular season game against Virginia. If they keep shooting the lights out and finally have a completely healthy roster at season’s end, the Fighting Irish will at least have an impact in the ACC Tournament. I think we can all agree that seeing this team win an automatic bid after everything they went through this season would be incredible.

Quick Facts:

  • The current senior class of Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell, Martinas Geben, Matt Gregory and Austin Torres has set the mark as the all-time winningest class in school history.
  • This will be the 22nd matchup between Notre Dame and Miami, with the Fighting Irish leading the series 11-10.
  • Notre Dame has hit 10 or more 3FGs in each of its past four games, including a season-high 30 in the two match ups with Boston College.
  • Geben has scored in double figures in four consecutive games, one shy of his career-best mark of five straight from earlier this season. He is also shooting 71.9 percent from the field during those four games.
  • Matt Farrell has 28 assists (7.0 per game) over his past four games and was able to post seven assists in his career-high 37 point game at Boston College.
  • T.J. Gibbs has scored in double figures in a career-best 15 consecutive games dating back Dec. 21, 2017.

WHEN: Monday, February 19, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET

WHERE: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center

HOW TO WATCH: ESPN Big Monday with Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Allison Williams.

ESPN Radio with Sean Kelley and Bob Valvano. Available at Sirius/XM Channel 80.

Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland. Available locally at WSBT AM 960/FM 96.1, worldwide at WatchND.tv and via any network affiliate.

Miami Hurricanes (18-8, 7-7 ACC)

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes are coming off the worst of those three straight losses with a flat-out dud on their home floor against Syracuse. Miami shot 33.9 percent from the floor and 22.6 percent from three in that game. Granted, one of the three losses came against Virginia, but before the losing streak the Hurricanes were in the top third of the confrence and a sure-fire tournament team. Now they’re in the middle of the pack and in danger of collapsing if they lost any more games.

On the season, Miami is averaging 73.8 points per game while allowing just 66.1. They don’t have a ton of fire power on offense, but their defense has kept this team alive for this long. They average more steals and more blocks than opponents while also averaging fewer turnovers, and their perimeter defense has held opponents to 32 percent shooting from three-point range.

The ‘Canes are paced by three players averaging just over 11 points per game on the season each with sophomore forward Dewan Huell, sophomore guard Bruce Brown and freshman guard Lonnie Walker. Huell also leads the team in blocks and total rebounds while Brown is the assist leader.

Though he averages 9 points per game on the season, freshman guard Chris Lykes has had the hot hand as of late. Over Miami’s last four games Lykes has scored in double figures and is averaging 15.5 points per game during that span.

Miami is a young team, with only one senior that sees significant playing time in Ja’Quan Newton. They don’t shoot it particularly well from outside with a 35.6 percent average from three, and they really struggle from the free-throw line at 66.4 perent. All in all, the Hurricanes have shown that they aren’t quite as good as they seemed earlier in the season.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricane to Watch:

Dewan Huell, F, Sophomore

The team’s leading scorer is a handful in the paint. Huell is 6-foot-11 and 236 pounds and does not have the ability to stretch the floor like some modern-day bigs. In fact, he is 0-3 from behind the arc on the season. His inside game in solid though, shooting 58 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the free-throw line with the most attempts from the line on the team. He is the team’s primary rim protector and rebounder, and Notre Dame will have to keep him off the glass in this one.

Irish X-Factor:

Matt Farrell, G, Senior

Do I need to say more? Farrell made it clear with his outburst against Boston College on Saturday that he is in total control of this team. He buried 10 threes on his way to a career-high 37 points, and was clearly pissed off after shooting just 3-18 from the field against North Carolina. It was a statement game for the senior that said he is not going to let the Fighting Irish go away quietly. If Farrell gets up like that for every game the rest of the way I think Notre Dame can beat anybody in the conference.

Prediction:

Notre Dame 80 - Miami 69

The Fighting Irish know the time is now if they want to have a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament. Winning out would be ideal, but even if Virginia is their only loss the rest of the way they’ll be in pretty good shape. Miami will probably come out with good energy hoping to break its losing streak, but the Fighting Irish have been shooting too well for them to keep up. I’ve got Notre Dame pulling away in the last few minutes of an otherwise competitive game.