Miami-Virginia Tech Preview
Miami showed some eagerness to capture an ACC regular-season title with a spectacular start to its latest game.
The seventh-ranked Hurricanes can secure at least a share of the crown with another road victory Saturday against Virginia Tech.
Miami (24-5, 13-4) scored the first 12 points and 21 of the first 24 on Wednesday en route to a 68-50 victory at Notre Dame, its eighth in nine games. Angel Rodriguez matched a season high with 19 points in the Hurricanes' most-lopsided conference victory this season.
"I just really want to win an ACC championship, and we're in a position to do that," Rodriguez said. "I thought we were more physical than them. It seemed like we wanted it more."
Miami, tied with North Carolina atop the ACC, is seeking its second regular-season league title in four seasons. The Hurricanes finished one game ahead of Duke in 2012-13, and would own another outright crown with a win coupled with the No. 17 Blue Devils beating eighth-ranked UNC on Saturday night.
"They know where we are in the standings. They know how close we are to finishing the regular season on a very high note," coach Jim Larranaga said.
Miami will try to do its part by earning a sixth consecutive win over Virginia Tech (17-13, 9-8). The Hurricanes have won the past four meetings by an average of 17.7 points, and a 65-49 victory Feb. 17 was their most lopsided in ACC play until Wednesday.
They held the Hokies to 29.6 percent shooting, their worst performance since February 2008.
Virginia Tech has responded with four straight wins, its longest in ACC play since a five-game run in February 2010. The Hokies, though, earned three of those victories against teams that are currently 11th or worse in the 15-team league.
They claimed their most high-profile win in that bunch Wednesday by beating Pittsburgh 65-61. Virginia Tech and Pitt are among four teams tied for seventh place in the conference.
The Hokies were 2-16 in each of their previous two ACC campaigns and have finished with at least a share of last place in each of their past four.
"Hopefully we can keep that momentum going against Miami," junior guard Devin Wilson said.
Zach LeDay led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Hokies' third consecutive home win. Virginia Tech has lost 11 of 12 visits from ranked teams, earning that victory over then-No. 4 Virginia on Jan. 4, and has dropped 24 of 25 overall to Top 25 foes.
LeDay, averaging a team-best 15.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, was held to six points and three boards in 22 foul-plagued minutes against Miami 2 1/2 weeks ago. The Hokies' second-leading scorer, Seth Allen (13.9 ppg), also dealt with the same issue and finished with five points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Miami's Sheldon McClellan, who averages a team-best 15.6 points, also had foul woes but scored 11, among his streak of 17 double-digit scoring performances. Rodriguez led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Hurricanes won 82-61 at Virginia Tech last March, the only road victory in their streak against the Hokies.