Hurricanes try to shake slump at NC State
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By STEVEN WINE
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) South Florida's flat topography is working in Jim Larranaga's favor, as the Miami Hurricanes coach noted while discussing his week in the wake of a deflating loss to Duke.
"I'm trying to mentally recover," Larranaga said Friday, "so I'm no longer thinking about jumping off a cliff."
After a pause, he smiled.
"I don't know if there are any cliffs here," he said.
There aren't, and Larranaga expects to make it to Sunday for No. 25 Miami's game at North Carolina State.
The Hurricanes (13-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) were ranked No. 6 in mid-December, but they're in danger of falling out of the Top 25 for the first time after losing four of their past seven. That includes the loss to No. 5 Duke on Monday , when the Hurricanes blew a 66-53 lead with eight minutes left.
Miami scored 16 consecutive points but later allowed the Blue Devils to score 18 in a row, and Larranaga said such extreme ups and downs have been a recurring problem.
"We're trying to simplify what we're doing right now so we can get a little more consistency," he said.
Larranaga wants to make it easier for his team to adjust when opponents change defenses. Freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV found the game video hard to watch when the Blue Devils' switch to a zone stymied Miami.
"They were standing at one spot for 10 hours - that's what it felt like," Walker said. "Their feet were basically glued to the court. We have to get them moving. We have to penetrate and pitch and make the right play."
Guard Chris Lykes said the Hurricanes expect to see more zone because they've struggled against it.
"When teams go zone against us, we start shooting 3s and not necessarily getting in gaps and creating for each other," Lykes said.
Newton's dip in production at point guard has been part of the problem. The team's only senior starter is averaging 8.5 points per game, compared with 13.5 a year ago.
"He's not having the kind of year I'm sure he was expecting, or we were expecting," Larranaga said.
North Carolina State (13-6, 3-3 ACC) is coming off a win over Wake Forest . This month the Wolfpack have also beaten Clemson and Duke, two teams that defeated Miami.
They're averaging 90 points at home, but Walker, for one, is eager to play in Raleigh for the first time. The freshman is fond of ACC road games.
"The environment is a lot more intense - stronger, faster, louder," he said. "Once you adjust to it, you kind of get going, and once you find that zone while you're away, it's by far one of the best feelings you get."
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Updated January 19, 2018