Miami might be catching Rutgers at the wrong time.
The Scarlet Knights (5-1) will visit the Hurricanes (6-1) on Wednesday night as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Coral Gables, Fla.
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The Knights on Saturday got a key player back to their lineup as fifth-year senior Caleb McConnell returned after missing six weeks due to a knee injury.
McConnell is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He is also one of 20 players on the watch list for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award.
On Saturday, McConnell played 25 minutes off the bench, posting four points, four rebounds and three assists in an 83-49 win over Central Connecticut State.
“It was great to have Caleb back,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We missed him.”
Rutgers on Saturday was still missing guard Paul Mulcahy (shoulder), who has started 56 career games for the Knights, including all three of his appearances this season.
Loyola (Md.) transfer Cam Spencer leads Rutgers in scoring (17.3 points) and ranks second nationally with 3.7 steals per game.
Miami, lacking in great size, may have trouble with 6-foot-11, 240-pound Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi, who is averaging 16.8 points and leads the Knights in rebounds (10.0) and blocks (2.2).
The Hurricanes will counter Omoruyi with 6-foot-7, 248-pound Norchad Omier, the co-leader for the Hurricanes in points (13.4) but leader in rebounds (10.6) — all while shooting 62.7 percent.
Miami will try to crack a Rutgers defense that entered this week ranked seventh in the nation, allowing just 52.8 points per game.
The Hurricanes, who have one of the more balanced offenses in the country, have to hope that guards Isaiah Wong (13.4 ppg) and Nijel Pack (13.0) have hot shooting nights. They are Miami’s biggest perimeter threats.
Jordan Miller is Miami’s “glue guy” who keeps the team together, averaging 13.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals.
Miami is coming off a 66-64 win over UCF on Sunday.
In that game, Miami overcame a great performance by UCF backup point guard Darius Johnson, who scored 22 of his career-high 24 points in the second half.
“We got some clutch performances,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Miami also got a bit lucky. The Hurricanes were 6 of 19 on 3-point attempts against UCF, and one of those shots was Wong’s half-court swish that beat the halftime buzzer. Miami also got a banked-in 3-pointer by Wooga Poplar.
–Field Level Media
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