Miami-La Salle Preview
Miami hasn't let a stunning home loss fester over the last three weeks, nor did it let a long layoff affect its shooting touch.
The 13th-ranked Hurricanes try for a fifth consecutive victory when they make a rare trip to the storied Palestra to face La Salle on Tuesday night.
Northeastern's Quincy Ford hit a jumper at the buzzer to hand Miami a 78-77 loss Nov. 27, bringing back memories of last season when Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky also won in Coral Gables before the Hurricanes were relegated to playing in the NIT.
Miami (9-1) hasn't lost since, though, and Jim Larranaga became the fastest coach in school history to reach 100 victories in his 150th game with Saturday's 85-63 win over Charleston.
The Hurricanes shot 55.8 percent following an 10-day layoff for final exams, hitting the 50-percent mark for the seventh time this season. They still weren't at their best offensively, though, committing a season-high 17 turnovers, five by point guard Angel Rodriguez.
Ja'Quan Newton scored a career-high 20 points off the bench.
"I went out there and I just played," Newton said. "Going into the game I just wanted to be aggressive."
Miami has mainly won with defense lately, holding its last three opponents to 37.3 percent from the field after its first seven shot at least 40 percent.
''I told the team after the game, that was a terrific defensive effort ... just a terrific defensive effort,'' Larranaga said. ''It led to fast-break layups, baskets, sharing the ball. We had a few too many turnovers, almost getting into each other's way. But our defense was so good for such a long period of time.''
The Hurricanes will need another solid performance defensively in order slow Jordan Price, fourth in the nation at 24.6 points per game.
The junior hasn't been as hot over the last two, though, shooting a combined 35.5 percent in a 66-53 loss to Drexel on Dec. 5 and a 76-47 defeat at then-No. 9 Villanova on Dec. 13. He had a career-high 37 points in a loss to Hofstra on Dec. 2 that began La Salle's three-game losing streak.
Price had 16 and was 6 of 17 against the Wildcats, who dominated from the opening tip. Johnnie Shuler was the only other player in double figures for the Explorers (4-4).
Cleon Roberts, second on the squad to Price with 11.9 points per game, finished with five and went 2 of 9.
''This is kind of our transition year,'' coach John Giannini said. ''We've transitioned from those guys that we won a lot of games with to a new core group. We're a couple of players, probably, short right now.''
La Salle will return from its break for exams to host Miami, which will face the Explorers in Philadelphia for the first time since losing in 1970 at the Palestra. Newton is a Philadelphia native, and Larranaga said the rest of the team will know how much that building means to college basketball.
"We have a video to show them about the history of the Palestra," Larranaga said. "I played there ... but I don't think they had video back then."
The last two meetings have been in Coral Gables, with the Hurricanes winning in 2012-13 and '13-'14.