Previewing Miami

The most surprising team in the conference, Miami, comes to Chapel Hill this weekend for a Saturday night matchup. Tip-off at the Smith Center will be just after 8 p.m. and televised by Raycom/JP. <br><br><b> <center>(<a target=new href=http://livestats.tarheelblue.collegesports.com/livestats/data/m-baskbl/286730>Live Stats</a> ... <a href=http://mb2.[NETWORKDOMAIN]/finsidecarolinafrm15>In-Game Chat</a>)</b></center>

North Carolina (15-2, 4-1) vs. Miami (12-4, 3-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
8:00 p.m., R/JP

Quotables

"North Carolina is equally talented and athletic as Duke, but they're deeper. We are going to need a yeoman's effort from all our guys." -- Frank Haith

"We're going to really, really have to step it up. We can't let [Sean] May do what [Shelden] Williams did. All of us have to be more aggressive and not let up at all." -- Anthony Harris

"I do think they're athletic. They guards are getting all the attention, but I like their big guys. In conference games, they have two of the top eight rebounders in the game. In rebounding margin, they're second behind us, and in conference games, they're ahead of us. I like their team. I think they have a good balance inside and outside. "Diaz can score an absurd amount of points in a short period of time." -- Roy Williams

PREGAME NOTES

Last Year Vs. UNC: Miami played in Chapel Hill last year, in the first week of January. Led by a dominating performance by Sean May (23 pts, 16 reb), the Tar Heels cruised to an 89-64 win. Robert Hite led all scorers with 27 points.

Season To Date: When heralded Texas assistant Frank Haith (also a former Wake Forest assistant) arrived to replace Perry Clark, the consensus was that Haith could perhaps get the program to be competitive in 3-4 years. Miami was 14-16 in 2003-04 with an average home attendance of 2,545, graduated its star (Darius Rice) and saw several key players and its top recruit transfer in the offseason. But despite the lack of optimism for this season and a complete lack of seasoned depth, the Hurricanes have been one of the nation's biggest surprises thus far. They're not just competitive -- they're winning. After a shaky start (a close win over Wofford, a loss to South Carolina State and an overtime loss to Xavier), Miami has won 11-of-13 games. They've won at Florida and at Virginia, while recording quality home wins against UMass, NC State and Florida State. Few believe they'll hold their fourth place spot in the conference for the entire year, but the mere fact that they're not in the ACC basement is the big story.

Scoring Guards: For all the great backcourts in the ACC this season, not many are better than Miami's set of guards. The trio of 6-2 starters -- Robert Hite, Guillermo Diaz and Anthony Harris -- are averaging a combined 48.9 points, 8.5 assists and 11.9 rebounds. Hite is a high-riser (39" vertical) who can either attack the basket or hit the long-range shot, and recorded his career-high point total last season in Chapel Hill. Diaz does Hite one better in the high-rising department (40" vertical) -- which helped make him a world-renowned volleyball star in Puerto Rico -- and utilitizes his explosiveness to blow by or over defenders. Harris is quick, a quite capable scorer and not a true point, but with Diaz and Hite's offensive abilities, he takes the role of scoring lead guard and has excelled this season at that spot. The trio also comprises 95% of Miami's three-pointers, with Hite (41%) and Diaz (38%) having the best accuracy.

Local King: Anthony King received little attention from the ACC while at Southern Durham (N.C.), getting no offers from within the conference and opting for then-Big East Miami. In his first season, he managed 1.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in seven minutes per game, seeming to justify that lack of recruiting interest. But this season is another story. First there were the 19 rebounds in the season opener, then a week later came a school-record 13 blocks and the first triple-double in school history. Going into Saturday's game, King is averaging 8.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks to go with 6.8 points.

State of the Frontcourt: Miami has outrebounded all five of its ACC opponents this season for a total of +35. King's efforts, combined with power forward William Frisby and reserve Gary Hamilton, forms a serviceable set of big men. However, they've struggled defensively in two recent games against quality post players. Virginia's Elton Brown had 20 points and 10 rebounds last week against the 'Canes and Duke's Sheldon Williams destroyed the UM frontline earlier this week for 30 points (11-12 FG).

Projected Starters:
12 Anthony Harris (6-2, 180, G, So.) - 12.6 ppg, 4.6 apg
13 Guillermo Diaz (6-2, 186, G, So.) – 18.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
22 Robert Hite (6-2, 190, G, Jr.) – 18.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg
34 William Frisby (6-8, 235, F, Sr.) – 9.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg
50 Anthony King (6-9, 230, C, Fr.) - 6.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg

Key Reserves:
 2 Gary Hamilton (6-10, 250, C, Jr.) – 4.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg
11 Eric Wilkins (6-4, 192, G, Jr.) – 1.9 ppg
10 Brandon Okpalobi (6-2, 188, G, Sr.) – 0.6 ppg, 1.0 apg

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Diaz ... Hite


King ... Frisby


Harris ... Haith

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