Colonels seek upset of 18th-ranked Hurricanes

Dec 19, 2014 - 3:31 PM Coral Gables, FL ( - The 18th-ranked Miami-Florida Hurricanes go in search of their 10th win of the season, as they entertain the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Friday night.

After opening the campaign at 4-0, Eastern Kentucky has come crashing down to Earth with losses in four of its last five games. The lone victory in that stretch coming at IUPUI last Saturday, 73-64. The Colonels returned home on Tuesday night, only to fall back to their losing ways in suffering a 63-60 setback versus East Tennessee State.

Miami has claimed victory in nine of its first 10 games, the most recent of which being a bounce-back effort in a 70-39 rout of visiting Savannah State on Dec. 8. The Hurricanes, who have been idle since that bout, had dropped a 68-55 decision at home to Green Bay in their previous outing, and this is the finale of the team's recent five-game homestand.

Miami owns a 2-1 lead in the series with Eastern Kentucky. The last meeting took place in Coral Gables back in 1997 with the Hurricanes prevailing in an 86-64 final.

Despite double-digit scoring efforts from Eric Stutz (13 points), Corey Walden (13) and Jaylen Babb-Harrison (11), the Colonels lost to East Tennessee State a few nights back. EKU shot just 40 percent from the field, but did manage to drain 10 3-pointers. Conversely, ETSU converted 15-of-34 long-range launches, but committed 20 turnovers, which was shocking considering the team entered the week averaging only half that amount per outing.

Walden continues to pace the Colonels in the scoring column with his 17.2 ppg, while Stutz is second at 13.0 ppg and Ja'Mill Powell tacks on 11.2 ppg. Three others net between 8.0 and 9.8 ppg, helping the team muster up 78.1 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .440 overall, .336 from beyond the arc and .768 at the free-throw line. Eastern Kentucky's stance at the defensive end yields just 63.7 ppg, although foes are converting nearly 40 percent of their 3-point tries. Forcing turnovers has been the team's specialty, as evidenced against an ETSU squad that entered the week ranked 11th in the nation in fewest miscues per outing. Overall, foes are coughing the ball up a whopping 23.3 times per game, giving the team a +11.2 turnover margin -- the second-best figure in Division I.

Miami controlled every aspect of its recent matchup with Savannah State, shooting 51.2 percent from the floor, which included a 9-of-19 showing from 3- point land, while allowing the Tigers just 32.6 percent success on their total shots. The Hurricanes, who got double-digit scoring efforts from Angel Rodriguez (17 points), Sheldon McClellan (15) and Manu Lecomte (15), won the rebounding battle, 34-24, while outscoring the visitors at the charity stripe, 19-2.

McClellan (16.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) heads a list of four double-digit scorers for Miami this season, and the team as a whole is netting 73.4 ppg in knocking down 47.2 percent of its total shots, which includes a 41.6 percent effort from beyond the arc. Defensively, the 'Canes are permitting just 58.8 ppg, as the enemy makes good on only 38.7 percent of its field goal attempts, and just 29.2 percent of its perimeter tries. Rodriguez in averaging 14.2 ppg and does his best to get his teammates involved in the action by handing out 4.5 apg, as well as logging 2.6 steals per tilt. Tonye Jekiri spearheads Miami's rebounding work by coming up with 9.7 rpg, and he averages 2.2 blocks per outing as well.

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