Miami, undefeated at home this season, is expected to get a tough test on Saturday afternoon from Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State.
The Hurricanes are 6-0 in Coral Gables, Fla.
Hurricanes guard Isaiah Wong is coming off a career-high 36 points in Miami’s 107-105 win over Cornell on Wednesday night.
Wong leads the Hurricanes (9-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) in scoring (15.6 points), assists (3.5) and steals (1.9).
Miami’s other double-figure scorers are Jordan Miller (14.6), Norchad Omier (14.0) and Nijel Pack (11.5). Omier, a 6-foot-7, 248-pounder, also leads Miami in rebounds (9.9).
Wong, known for his drives, is shooting a career-best 37.8 percent on 3-pointers, which is a big improvement from last season (30.2).
“The (up-tempo) pace suits me,” Wong said. “(As a team), we have a lot of momentum going into our next game.”
Indeed, Miami has won five straight games, but the Hurricanes are wary of the Wolfpack.
That’s because NC State, which finished in last place in the ACC last season at 11-21 (4-16), is much improved in the new campaign.
The Wolfpack (8-2, 0-1), who brought in five transfers, have only lost to reigning national champion Kansas (by six points) and to Pitt (by eight).
NC State’s best player is 6-foot-4 guard Terquavion Smith, who averaged 16.3 points last season. This season, he is leading the Wolfpack in scoring (17.7) and assists (5.4). Smith, who flirted with the NBA draft before returning to the team this fall, is shooting 50 percent on 2-pointers and 35.3 percent on 3-pointers.
The Smith-Wong matchup should be fun to watch.
On the wings, the Wolfpack have 6-3 Casey Morsell, who is averaging 13.5 points and shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers; 6-1 Jarkel Joiner, a Mississippi transfer who is averaging 16.8 points and 3.2 assists; and 6-8 Jack Clark, who leads the team in rebounds (7.2) and steals (2.2) while averaging 9.0 points.
However, in the Wolfpack’s 94-72 win over Coppin State on Tuesday, they lost starting center Dusan Mahorcic to a dislocated right patella. He will undergo surgery and is out indefinitely.
A Utah transfer, he is averaging 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds.
“That meant a lot to me — he’s like a brother,” Smith said of the Mahorcic’s injury. “It shows that (basketball) can end at any time.”
Mahorcic’s backup is 6-9, 270-pound Winthrop transfer DJ Burns, the Big South Player of the Year last season. Burns is averaging 7.4 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Miami has won two straight games in its series against the Wolfpack, including a 91-83 home victory last season. In that game, Miller had 25 points, and Wong added 19.
For the Wolfpack, Smith had 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting, and Morsell had four points on 1-for-5 shooting.
–Field Level Media