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February 4, 2009

Encountering the Canes

Another week and another chance for Wake Forest to get back on the horse. Tonight the Demon Deacons travel to Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes, who are currently 14-7 overall and 3-5 in conference play.

Last week Wake Forest followed their first loss with an exciting victory over then top-ranked Duke. This week's opponent is less formidable, having just lost to Maryland on Saturday to continue a three-game losing streak, but is still potent and will definitely give the Demon Deacons a run for their money.

Wake Forest has won five of their six meetings with the Hurricanes since they joined the ACC, and is 2-1 in Coral Gables. Last season the two teams only met once, when for the second time of the season Ishmael Smith hit a gaming winning shot as Wake defeated Miami 70-68 in Winston-Salem.

Although Wake Forest appears to be the more talented team in this matchup, Miami brings plenty of firepower themselves. Senior guard Jack McClinton is Miami's superstar, averaging 18 points and 3 assists while playing 30 minutes per game. He's been on a hot streak recently, recording 20 or more points in four of Miami's last five outings.

Forward Dwayne Collins has also emerged for the Canes in ACC play, averaging 15 points and grabbing 6 rebounds over the last three games. He is likely to be assigned the unenviable task of dealing with Wake's big men, and that matchup is likely to be crucial in this game.

Miami tends to run with a small lineup which should provide the Demon Deacons an advantage on the offensive end of the floor. No one on Miami's roster is taller than 6-9, and no starter is taller than 6-8. Miami likes to start two guards and three forwards, meaning Chas McFarland and Al-Farouq Aminu will be expected to make major contributions in the paint.

Miami's smaller lineup could pose a challenge for the Deacs on the defensive end, but you can expect the Deacs to clog the middle to prevent slashing and force the Hurricanes to hit their outside shots.

Although the Hurricanes have been on a skid of late, they're sure to be fired up for this home matchup against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will need a solid performance to bounce back from Saturday's heartbreaker at Georgia Tech. Coach Gaudio is sure to have whipped the Deacs back and shape and they will almost certainly be ready to go tomorrow night.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Terry Gannon and Len Elmore have the call.


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