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Meet Miami, forced into a youth movement but still pretty good

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Listen, Tonye Jekiri couldn't play there forever, contrary to what we all might have assumed.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 4:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 31

TV: RSN (affiliates)

Online streamingESPN3/ACC Network Extra (same thing)

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Miami vitals

Record: 10-2
Pomeroy ranking: 32
Best win***: 67-53 over Stanford (No. 79 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss***: 73-56 to Iowa State (No. 30 in Pomeroy Ratings)

(***Based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not margin of victory/defeat.)

Adjusted tempo: 68.0 poss/40 minutes (ranks 273rd)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 109.3 (ranks 57th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 92.4 (ranks 22nd)

Miami roster
Miami schedule
Miami stats 2016 2017

The Miami offense and starters

Miami Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 54.2 (23) 16.5 (69) 30.1 (158) 40.7 (77)
2016-17 52.6 (84) 20.3 (243) 37.2 (21) 36.3 (146)

Last season marked the end of an era in Miami basketball; Tonye Jekiri, Sheldon McClellan, and Angel Rodriguez graduated and left Jim Larranaga a lot of holes to fill. That group led the Hurricanes to their second Sweet Sixteen appearance under Larranaga. (And then subsequently got steamrolled by eventual champ Villanova.)

The last time Larranaga had a team that good, the follow-up season was rough. His Miami program has been up and down, to say the least--the Canes have an ACC title but also have only made the NCAAs twice in 5+ seasons under Larranaga. And in both cases, they were a 3-seed or better.

The good news for the Hurricanes is it's looking like they'll weather the roster turnover much better than they did following that peak in 2013. Despite their losses, they returned three solid veterans, and they also added a pair of top-50 recruits that have proven critical to their success so far in 2017.

The offense is not as good as it was in 2016, but they've managed not to fall off a cliff, which is fairly impressive considering what they lost. Miami's youth shows in its significantly higher turnover rate, but so far at least the team has been able to compensate somewhat by grabbing more offensive boards. The Canes are likely to remain turnover prone, so that offensive rebounding rate will be important for them the rest of the way.

In the absence of Rodriguez, McClellan, and role player Juan Cruz Uceda, Miami is shooting threes well below national average. Davon Reed continues to be an outstanding three-point shooter, but the perimeter support elsewhere is mainly coming from freshmen and sophomores. That's not necessarily a problem, it's just hard to guess at those kids' true shooting talent when there is so little track record. Freshman guard Dejan Vasiljevic is shooting nearly 40% from three, for instance, but will that last now that the schedule's about to get much more difficult?

That could become a problem later, and it might not. So far the Hurricanes are getting by fine simply by not shooting a lot of threes. The offense probably can't be as good as it was last season, but definitely good enough to pose a threat to most ACC teams on any given day.

Starters

Ja'Quan Newton (6-2, 187) -- Newton was an obvious candidate for raise-workload-to-fill-void guy, and that is indeed what has happened. He's shooting more often--heck, he already has 18 three-point attempts after trying only 26 last season--and leads Miami in scoring. He's taken full advantage of a weak non-conference schedule  and is shooting a career-best 52.1% inside the arc. That is unlikely to last, since he's a career 47.3% shooter from two and has never been better than a 45.5% shooter in ACC play.

Bruce Brown (6-5, 190) -- Brown is one of those aforementioned top-50 recruits and is off to a nice start, averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. I really like this kid. His overall athleticism is impressive, and it shows on paper. He gets to the line, he is disruptive defensively, he rebounds well at both ends, and he's also a good passer. If his three-point shooting warms up, he's a big problem.

Davon Reed (6-6, 220) -- As usual, Davon Reed is doing real good at shooting. He's a career 39.5% three-point shooter and so far this season he's at 40.3. He usually maintains a roughly 50-50 balance between two-point and three-point attempts, and he's not bad inside the arc, which is what makes him tough.

Kamari Murphy (6-8, 220) -- Larranaga has been one of the best at landing key transfers--Murphy, also Rodriguez and McClellan--to sustain his program over the last few years. Murphy, who came over from Oklahoma State, has been an important role player for the Canes. He's a decent post player and a pretty good rebounder, but can be a bit turnover-prone.

Dewan Huell (6-11, 220) -- Huell is avoiding some of the usual freshman big man problems, like turnovers, for instance. He's been a decent scorer in the paint and a very good offensive rebounder but needs to get a lot better rebounding the ball at the defensive end.

The Miami bench and defense

Reserves: Ebuka Izundu (6-10, 231), Anthony Lawrence (6-7, 210), Dejan Vasiljevic (6-3, 198). In his limited playing time, offensive rebounds are basically Izundu's whole game. He grabs a zillion offensive rebounds and either puts them through the score circle or gets fouled. It's impressive, really. Lawrence has been an outstanding shooter throughout his career both inside the arc and beyond it. He takes a secondary role in the offense, though. Vasiljevic has taken 53 three-pointers and 15 twos this year. He has made 40% of those threes and a third of those twos. Guess which one you'd rather he take?

MIami Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 48.3 (92) 17.4 (216) 29.5 (154) 29.1 (36)
2016-17 41.7 (6) 19.7 (134) 28.2 (112) 23.7 (12)

Larranaga's teams usually don't foul much, and this edition is no different. If the Hurricanes keep up the outstanding interior defense, they'll be in pretty good shape the rest of this season. Opponents are probably going to shoot better than the 28.3 mark they've put up against Miami so far.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Miami by seven.