December 28, 2015

Immediately after losing at home to an unranked opponent last month, Miami came close to suffering another upset. The four wins that have followed haven't allowed for such excitement.

The 13th-ranked Hurricanes have one last tune-up before heading into ACC play, and it comes Tuesday night seeking a sixth straight win as they host Princeton.

Miami (10-1) fell 78-77 to Northeastern on Nov. 27, then won 77-72 in overtime at Nebraska four days later. It has since won by an average of 26.7 points with last Tuesday's 95-49 win at La Salle as the biggest blowout.

The Hurricanes have shot 50.7 percent overall and 41.7 from 3-point range in that time, which are identical marks to their season averages, so the improvement has come at the other end.

Through the Nebraska contest, Miami had allowed 72.3 points per game with opponents shooting 44.7 percent and 41.4 from long range. In the four since, it has limited teams to 56.8 points with marks of 35.5 and 20.9 percent, which includes a 66-55 home win over Florida in which the Gators went 1 of 12 from 3-point range.

"Coach has been pretty hard on us, because he knows we can do a lot better," said Angel Rodriguez after that victory Dec. 8. "... We've made a lot of improvement, especially guarding the 3-point line."

Offensively against La Salle, Ivan Cruz Uceda had a career-high 20 points in 18 minutes off the bench, while top scorer Sheldon McClellan added 14 in 26 minutes. The guard is averaging 17.3 points in his last three games while shooting 55.2 percent and hitting 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

Home nonconference games have been anything but a sure thing for the Hurricanes with nine wins in their last 12 and losses coming against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Eastern Kentucky and Northeastern dating to Dec. 6, 2014.

Princeton (7-3), however, has lost 23 of its last 24 games against the Top 25, including an 82-61 defeat at then-No. 6 Maryland on Dec. 19. The Tigers followed it up with last Tuesday's 89-77 home win over Bucknell.

Princeton has been a solid offensive team, averaging 76.6 points for its highest mark through 10 games since 1971-72 (83.3).

Against Bucknell, freshman Devin Cannady tied a career high with 17 points, and Spencer Weisz had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Mitch Henderson was happy to have a balanced attack after Henry Caruso had shouldered much of the load with an average of 23.3 points in his previous three games. The junior still scored 13 on 5-of-10 shooting against Bucknell and is hitting 63.6 percent from the field in his last three games.

"We kind of do whatever we need to do in order to get shots," Henderson said. "I think the scoring needs to be balanced for us. ... Henry has been kind of putting us on our back a little bit here lately, but I think even he would acknowledge that we're going to be balanced going forward."

But the level of competition now shifts back more toward Maryland than Bucknell, and Henderson knows a win at Miami could take something particularly efficient. That holds true on the other end of the court, where opponents have hit 55.4 percent overall and 44.8 from 3-point range in the last three games.

"I think going into a little break for us before we head down to Florida, we needed it," Henderson said. "Maryland, there's very little margin for error. I think what we're learning with our group is we're going to need some contribution off the bench and we're going to need everybody to be sort of firing on all cylinders."

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