Phoenix hope to rise above 15th-ranked Hurricanes

Dec 6, 2014 - 3:51 PM Coral Gables, FL ( - The 15th-ranked Miami-Florida Hurricanes will try to remain undefeated when they host the Green Bay Phoenix in a non-conference clash at BankUnited Center.

Green Bay is still licking its wounds following a 72-58 loss at Georgia State on Thursday. The loss was the second in as many road games for the Phoenix, who had won four straight games prior to the sizable setback. They will host their next two games against Drake and Morehead State.

Miami has been outstanding through its first eight games, racking up win after win without suffering a defeat. They earned an impressive victory last time out, topping No. 24 Illinois, 70-61, at home as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This is the third leg of a five-game homestand for the Hurricanes, who host Savannah State next.

These teams last met during the 2005-06 season when Miami ran away with an 80-54 victory. The Hurricanes lead the all-time series, 2-1, with a loss in 1987 (62-45), and a win in 1985 (67-63).

Green Bay couldn't find its stroke against Georgia State. The Phoenix connected on a paltry 28.8 percent of their shots from the floor, which included a 4-of-5 showing from 3-point range. Even their free-throw percentage was dismal, as they sank only 14-of-23 foul shots. At the other end, they allowed the Panthers to drill 53.1 percent of their total shots. Keifer Sykes was the only double-digit scorer for the Phoenix, finishing with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

At 5-2, Green Bay has obviously had more success at both end of the court, but especially on defense, as they are letting up only 60.1 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting. Those defensive efforts have been necessary, as they are only putting up 66.1 ppg, despite shooting a shade under 45 percent from the field. Sykes (18.1 ppg, 3.6 apg) is one of the best pure scorers in the country and he carries much of the responsibility for the Phoenix. He is sinking 51 percent of his shots from the field. Greg Mays (11.7 ppg) is not just the only other player averaging double figures, but he is the only other player putting in more than six points per game.

In Miami's recent showdown with Illinois, neither team shot particularly well as the Hurricanes managed to connect on only 37.9 percent of their shots from the floor, including a 9-of-30 effort from beyond the arc. However, Miami held the Illini to 33.3 percent accuracy, while more than doubling them up from the free-throw line (17-8). Deandre Burnett came off the bench to record 19 points and eight rebounds to pace the winning side.

Miami has been a tough team to score on during its 8-0 start, as the team is permitting only 60.1 ppg on 38.7 percent shooting. The 'Canes couple that with strong play on offense, netting 76.1 points a contest on 48.8 percent accuracy. Sheldon McClellan (16.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) leads the scoring barrage, finishing on 56.1 percent of his attempts from the field. Angel Rodriguez (14.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 spg) is a solid contributor in more ways than one, while Manu Lecomte (13.5 pg) provides additional scoring and Tonye Jekiri (8 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.5 bpg) is a handful on the interior.

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