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February 17, 2012

Wake Forest at Miami (Fla.): Preview

Wake Forest at Miami (Fla.)
Location: Coral Gables, Fla
Venue: Bank United Center
Tip-off: Saturday at 1:00 PM ET.
TV: Fox Sports (Regionally)
Current records:
Wake Forest: 12-14, 3-9 ACC (Beat Georgia Tech 59-50).
Miami (Fla.): 15-9, 6-5 ACC (Lost to North Carolina 73-64).

Series history: The Demon Deacons have an all-time series lead of 8-5, but the Hurricanes have won four of the last five, including last season's 74-73 heartbreaker in Winston-Salem.

Deacons Illustrated previews the game:

The matchups do not favor the Deacs. Jeff Bzdelik went with a small lineup against Georgia Tech, starting Nikita Mescheriakov, Travis McKie, Chase Fischer, C.J. Harris and Tony Chennault, and it worked.

Miami presents quite the challenge with its twin towers, Reggie Johnson (6-foot-10 and 284 pounds) and Kenny Kadji (6-foot-11 and 251 pounds). Johnson and Kadji average a combined 24 points and nearly 13 rebounds a game, and are not afraid to pull the trigger from behind the arc.

They will force Wake Forest to be creative in its approach to counter Miami's inside advantage, or another double-double from Travis McKie (Five this season) to have a chance.

Wake Forest seven footers, Ty Walker and Carson Desrosiers have been ho-hum recently to put it nicely. Walker did not score against Clemson Saturday, Feb. 11, and the same for Desrosiers against Georgia Tech.

Look for the Demon Deacons to continue with a 2-3 zone defense to compensate for their lack of an inside presence, which may lead to their drowning in South Beach. The Canes scorch the nets at 35.3-percent (tied for third in the ACC).

The Hurricanes have found success since switching to its three-guard lineup, featuring New Yorkers Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott and freshman Shane Larkin (Son of MLB Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin).

At 6-foot-5 Scott brings size to the point guard position. He leads the Canes in scoring (12.7 points per game) and assists (3.3 per game), and is second in rebounding (five per game).

Do not be surprised to see Bzdelik often go with three guards to matchup with Miami.

Free throws may again be integral to a successful outing for Wake. In their last two games the Demon Deacons have shot 43-49 to the opposition's 11-22 from the charity stripe. This favorable trend must continue for Wake Forest if it hopes to create a tropical depression at the Bank United Center.

Jim Larranaga's first team at Miami is an experienced one with strong bench production led by Trey McKinney Jones and DeQuan Jones, which is an area of weakness for the Deacs.

Wednesday was proof that the Demon Deacons have not quit on Bzdelik, which should encourage the Black and Gold Faithful. However, Larranaga has the Canes competing for an NCAA Tournament berth. After Wednesday's bitter loss to the Tar Heels look for the Hurricanes to come out firing early to stay off the bubble. Wake will need to dig deep for the toughness to weather the storm, and provide the counter blows to upset 'The U.'


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