Motivation will not be M.I.A. when the Miami Hurricanes open their road schedule Tuesday with a 90-minute trek north to Florida Atlantic.
The Hurricanes (1-1) and Owls (1-1) face off in Boca Raton, Fla., with more than pride and bragging rights on the line.
“Whenever you play an in-state school, there’s always something extra to it,” Miami forward Sam Waardenburg said.
Recency indicates the Hurricanes know all too well the sting of losing to a perceived in-state underdog.
Miami was stunned by UCF in a 95-89 decision on Saturday afternoon.
Kameron McGusty led Miami with a game-high 28 points, making 14-of-17 free throws. He shot 7-of-14 from the floor, but he went 0-for-5 on 3-point tries.
Miami’s Isaiah Wong, who led the ACC in scoring last year, had 18 of his 20 points in the second half. He scored 15 straight Hurricanes points during his hot stretch.
The Hurricanes have shown to be vulnerable in critical areas — rebounding and bench scoring — in the opening games. UCF outrebounded Miami, 43-23. UCF’s reserves outscored their counterparts, 40-17.
Miami’s 3-point shooting was also off (23.1 percent) and the Hurricanes missed 11 of their first 12 shots from distance.
McGusty leads the team in scoring (24.0), and he’s making 53.6 percent of his shots. Wong is second in scoring (13.5), and Waardenburg and Anthony Walker are tied for third at 13.0.
FAU lost its opener, 99-92, at New Mexico but then came back to rout NAIA school Warner, 78-56.
“We didn’t play well,” FAU coach Dusty May said after the Warner victory. “But we’re excited we found a way to win.”
Given Miami’s rebounding issues, it’s interesting to note that FAU outrebounded New Mexico, 42-25, including 17-7 on the offensive glass. FAU outrebounded Warner, 46-34, including 17-3 on the offensive glass.
May made one change in his starting lineup for Warner, putting 6-4 guard Brandon Weatherspoon in for 6-6 guard Everett Winchester.
Otherwise, May is riding 7-1, 240-pound center Vladislav Goldin and 6-7, 230-pound Bitumba Baruti up front. They should be a load for Miami to handle.
FAU’s other starting guards are Alijah Martin and Michael Forrest. And although Forrest is FAU’s smallest starter at 6-1, he leads the team with 11 offensive rebounds.
Forrest also leads FAU in scoring (16.5), assists (3.5) and steals (2.0). Forrest was sixth in Conference USA last season in effective field-goal percentage (61.4).
Baruti, a native of Congo, is averaging 11.0 points and a team-high-tying 6.5 rebounds. He was a rotation player and spot starter for East Carolina the past two years.
Goldin, a transfer from Texas Tech and a Russia native, is averaging just 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds. But he may be able to break out against Miami’s four-guard lineup. Waardenburg is Miami’s tallest starter at 6-10.
–Field Level Media