Coll. of Charleston-Miami Preview
Miami has a chance to give coach Jim Larranaga a milestone victory against the son of the program's greatest player.
Two of Larranga's wins with the Hurricanes have come against Charleston, including a 67-40 rout last December.
"Miami is a very good team," Cougars coach Earl Grant said. "Coach Larranaga is a very good coach and will have his guys ready for us."
Charleston (7-2) has won five straight and is already within two victories of its total from last season, its first under Grant.
One reason for the turnaround has been the emergence of Barry, who enters the weekend 13th in the nation with 21.4 points per game. The junior guard is the youngest son of NBA Hall of Famer and former All-American Rick Barry, who averaged 37.4 points as a senior for the Hurricanes in 1964-65.
Though the younger Barry is shooting 41.4 percent, he continues to blossom. He averaged 11.2 points on 36.5 percent shooting over the previous two seasons, including 35 scoreless minutes against Miami last year and an eight-point, five-turnover effort in a 70-54 loss to the Hurricanes as a freshman.
Miami has won three straight since a 78-77 home loss to Northeastern on Nov. 27, though it hasn't been easy. The Hurricanes have shot 44.8 percent during the win streak after making at least 51.9 in each of the previous five games, but they held Nebraska, Charlotte and Florida to a combined 38.3 percent.
''Coach has been pretty hard on us, because he knows we can do a lot better,'' said guard Angel Rodriguez, who had 17 points in a 66-55 win over the Gators on Dec. 8.
Miami hasn't played since that day, when it shot a season-low 39.2 percent.
The Hurricanes have held the last two opponents to 4 of 30 from 3-point range after the previous three hit 29 of 58.
"The only way to make them miss is to get in their grill," Larranaga said. "(Our) guys pride themselves on their offense but if they learn to pride themselves on their defense as well we can elevate ourselves on how well be play at both ends of the court.
"We're not going to shoot well every night."
The Cougars had their best 3-point shooting effort Sunday, making 12 of 24 and hitting 55.4 percent overall in an 89-52 victory over Division II North Greenville. Though that victory was hardly impressive from a competitive standpoint, they have won at Navy and held a previously ranked LSU squad to a season-low 31.1 percent shooting in a 70-58 home victory Nov. 30.
Their early success has been keyed by a defense allowing averages of 63.8 points, 41.2 percent from the field and 29.5 percent on 3-pointers.
Charleston has dropped four straight against ranked opponents since winning at No. 24 Baylor in November 2012.
"We are excited about the challenge," Grant said. "Our team is going to be really geared up to play them."
Miami leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (16.8 points per game) scored 24 against Florida after he averaged 12.0 in the previous four contests. Rodriguez scored 15 and McClellan had 11 in last season's win over Charleston.