The room is closing in on the Miami Hurricanes’ season and they have little room to survive. With their backs against the wall, the 12th-seeded Hurricanes (18-12, 4-12) will face the fifth-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19-9, 9-7) Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
With an NIT berth on the line, head coach Frank Haith knows the significance of this weekend.
“I think we’ve got to get a [win],” said Haith, who believes one win will solidify a spot in the NIT. “I would feel pretty confident if we get one win, but I’d like to get two to make sure. I would feel good about us being able to get in.”
Miami and Wake Forest split the series this season, with each team winning at their territory. The Canes slipped past the Demon Deacons, 67-66, at the BankUnited Center on January 9, and then fell in Winston-Salem, 62-53, on February 2.
“We’re playing a good team, a very talented Wake Forest basketball team,” Haith said. “We have had success, beat them two of the last three times we played them.”
Haith will have to rely on freshman guard Durand Scott to lead the charge. Scott was Miami’s first-ever All-Rookie Team selection and Scott received the ACC Rookie of the Week selection three times this season. The New York City native is the only ACC freshman to rank among the top six freshmen in scoring with 9.8 points per game, sixth with 3.9 rebounds per game and leads with 3.5 assists per game.
“Durand Scott is a phenomenal, dynamic young player,” Haith said. “He is one of the most unselfish players and will do whatever he needs to help his team win.”
Scott will lead the perimeter play but the Hurricanes might need leading scorer senior forward Dwayne Collins in the post to make a run in the ACC Tournament.
Collins hasn’t practiced consistently over the past month because of numerous injuries but Haith hopes Collins can play. Collins averaged a team-high 14 points and 6.5 rebounds over the two meetings against Wake Forest. They truly will need him to bang in the inside against the Demon Deacons.
The winner of today’s game between the Canes and the Demon Deacons will square off against fourth-seeded Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
Redshirt sophomore Malcolm Grant believes his team has gotten better throughout the season and hopes they will move on in the ACC Tournament.
“Early in the season it was kind of rough for us because it was a first time experience,” Grant said. “But I think we’ve definitely got better as a unit playing on the road. It’s been close games, not getting blown out like earlier in the season. I think we’re getting better as a unit playing on the road. We don’t want our season to end.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.