Indiana State (6-4) vs. Miami-Florida (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 25, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: ISU 3-1, Miami 5-0. Away Record: ISU 2-2, Miami 3-1. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, Miami 0-1. Conference Record: ISU 0-0, Miami 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Indiana State Sycamores and the Hurricanes of Miami-Florida is set to take place at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu during the championship round of the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day.
The Hurricanes arrived on the island sporting an impressive 7-1 mark, losing only to Florida Gulf Coast in the second game of the season. The team extended its win streak to seven in a row on Saturday with a 73-58 romp over host Hawaii, but then was taken down by fourth-ranked Arizona a day later in a 69-50 final. The scoring output for Miami was the team's lowest of the campaign so far.
As for the Sycamores, they too arrived at the tournament on a high note, having taken down IUPUI on the road back on Dec. 15 by a score of 75-61, but in Saturday's action the team had to go to overtime in order to best Ole Miss, 87-85. Making the quick turn-around for Sunday's action, Indiana State refused to go away quietly versus 18th-ranked San Diego State, but eventually did bow to the Aztecs by a score of 62-55, snapping the team's brief two-game win streak.
The Sycamores stuck around longer than most expected on Sunday, trying to keep pace with San Diego State before suffering the seven-point setback. Of the 55 points scored by Indiana State, all but six came from the starting five as R.J. Mahurin led the way with 15 points in 25 minutes of action. Manny Arop got off to a slow start, but ended up with 13 points and five rebounds, followed by Jake Odum with 10 points and four assists, but he was also guilty of five of the unit's 17 turnovers in the contest. Miscues continue to be an issue for ISU, as the team averages more than 13 per contest and that has limited its offensive output to 68.7 ppg which isn't much more than the 66.4 ppg the squad is allowing the competition. Odum has been trying to balance the scales by not only leading the team in scoring with 15.0 ppg, but also pacing the group with 46 assists over 10 outings. Arop (13.4 ppg) has been a big contributor in the paint with 6.6 rpg, but at the same time he has shown that handling the ball is not one of his strengths, guilty of 27 turnovers while posting just six assists.
It wasn't until the final minutes of the first half that the Hurricanes began to fall off the pace against Arizona, but once that happened the team never recovered, en route to the double-digit loss on Sunday. Kenny Kadji tried to keep hope alive with his 19 points, followed by Durand Scott and Shane Larkin with 15 and 10 points, respectively, but it turned out to be a lost cause. Scott and Larkin combined to register nine steals in the meeting, but at the same time were tagged for seven turnovers. Rion Brown made the start for the group, but finished just 1-of-9 shooting from the floor, the team making just 36.5 percent for the game. Unfortunately, even though there were plenty of rebounds to be had, Miami was crushed on the glass, 46-20, and had just five at the offensive end of the floor. The loss of Reggie Johnson to a sprained left thumb means Miami is having to make up for 12.6 ppg and a team-best 10.1 rpg which is not easy. Kadji is the active leader on the glass for the program with 6.6 rpg, while the scoring is being handled primarily by Scott (16.1 ppg) and Larkin (14.0 ppg). Defense remains key in Miami's game plan, as the team holds opponents to just 39.1 percent shooting from the floor, en route to an average yield of only 60.5 ppg.
Miami should be the favorite in this meeting, but the Sycamores are a scrappy bunch that refused to go away quietly against San Diego State and that should carry some weight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana State 64, Miami-Florida 61
12/25 10:41:41 ET