Looking to gain some momentum before facing the nation’s top-ranked team next week, Miami tries for its first conference road win in over a year Saturday when the No. 21 Hurricanes visit North Carolina State.
Miami (14-2, 1-1 ACC) suffered its eighth straight conference road loss Tuesday after falling 76-66 at Boston College. The loss kept the Hurricanes, who had won two straight since their 12-game winning streak was snapped by a loss to Winthrop on Dec. 29, from matching their best start in school history.
Miami has not won an ACC road game since beating Maryland on Jan. 10, 2007.
With a home contest against No. 1 North Carolina on tap for Wednesday, the Hurricanes are looking to avoid their worst conference start since going 0-3 to begin the Big East schedule in 2002-03.
The Hurricanes are coming off one of their worst offensive games of the season after shooting a season-low 31.6 percent against the Eagles.
They were 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range. Miami, which leads the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage (40.1), has shot just 22.2 percent (10-of-45) on 3s in its first two conference games.
The Hurricanes never led after Boston College scored 14 of the game’s first 16 points.
“We came out with a nonchalant attitude and didn’t execute as well as we should have. That attitude put us in a hole,” said leading scorer Jack McClinton, who finished with 20 points. “It’s on us. There’s really nothing the coaches can do. We have to prepare for the challenge.”
N.C. State (11-5, 0-2), meanwhile, is trying to bounce back from an even tougher start to its conference season. After winning seven straight from Dec. 15-Jan. 9, the Wolfpack have suffered back-to-back road losses against ranked opponents: a 93-62 loss to North Carolina last Saturday and a 70-54 loss to No. 24 Clemson on Tuesday.
The Wolfpack committed a season-high 23 turnovers against the Tigers and allowed Clemson to shoot 10-for-25 from 3-point range. It didn’t help that leading scorer J.J. Hickson was held to four points after being limited by early foul trouble.
Courtney Fells led the Wolfpack with 19 points while Tracy Smith added 13.
Coach Sidney Lowe was frustrated that his team didn’t seem to learn anything from the loss to the Tar Heels.
“I’m concerned about the mental toughness,” Lowe said.
Gavin Grant averages 12.9 points as the Wolfpack’s second leading scorer, but he’s managed a total of only 17 on 6-of-18 shooting (33.3 percent) in two ACC games.
The Wolfpack also could be playing without 6-foot-10 center Ben McCauley, who had to be carried off the court with 1:31 remaining in Tuesday’s game with a left ankle injury. The Wolfpack’s official Web site said McCauley, who is averaging 6.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game, was unable to put any pressure on the ankle.
N.C. State has won three of the five all-time meetings against Miami. The Hurricanes won last year’s game in Miami 80-65, but the Wolfpack have won both games played in North Carolina.