Panthers face Hurricanes in ACC affair

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Updated: 2/05/2014 9:43 am

Coral Gables, FL ( - Attempting to halt their first losing streak of the season, the 25th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers take on the Miami Hurricanes in an ACC affair on Wednesday evening at the BankUnited Center.

Jamie Dixon's Panthers opened up play in their new conference with wins in six of their first seven ACC tilts, but have dropped back-to-back games at home to Duke (80-65) and Virginia (48-45) to fall to 6-3 in league play.

The Hurricanes are the defending ACC champs, but Jim Larranaga's squad is comprised of different players this season and successfully defending that crown doesn't look eminent. Miami has really struggled at home at a mere 5-6 overall, but one of those wins came this past weekend, a non-conference victory over Norfolk State, 64-49. The Hurricanes have dropped three straight ACC matchups and now sit at a meager 2-6 in-conference.

The Panthers have won the last two meetings between these teams and now holds a slim 17-16 all-time advantage in the series.

The Panthers went up against one of the top defensive teams in the country and were outdone by the Cavaliers last time out. The Panthers fell victim to a Malcolm Brogdon 3-pointer with under a second to play that earned Virginia the thrilling win. Despite being at home, Pittsburgh shot an ugly .319 from the floor overall, resulting in a season-low 45 points. Freshman Jamel Artis led the team in defeat with 11 points off the bench. Lamar Patterson added 10 for the Panthers in the setback.

Pittsburgh has been much more efficient offensively this season, shooting .474 overall, leading to 74.4 ppg. Tough defensive play has been a constant, as foes are averaging just 60.5 ppg on just over 40 percent accuracy. In addition, the Panthers enjoy a +8.1 rebounding edge. Patterson headlines the play at the offensive end of the floor, averaging 17.4 ppg, while shooting an impressive .420 from behind the arc. Center Talib Zanna, who was injured in the Virginia game (ankle), has been a force down low, averaging 12.9 ppg, on nearly 60 percent efficiency. He returned against the Cavs and should be able to suit up in this game. Cameron Wright rounds out the top scoring threats on the roster for Pittsburgh at 10.7 ppg.

The Hurricanes are also a defensive-minded squad, holding opponents to a mere 59.5 ppg and under 40 percent shooting overall (.399). However, Miami's strong defensive play is more of a necessity, as the offensive weapons are few and far between for a team that is netting just 61.6 ppg. Rion Brown is the only player on the roster currently averaging double figures with 14.0 ppg. Garrius Adams (9.8 ppg) and Donnavan Kirk (9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) add limited support.

Despite going up against an inferior foe in Norfolk State, Miami still struggled to find an offensive rhythm, shooting just .419 from the floor en route to a modest 63-point effort. Four Hurricanes managed to reach double digits though, led by Brown's 15 points. Manu Lecomte added 13 points, Adams recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Kirk chipped in with 10 points.

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