Miami to keep tabs on Sean Pedulla in clash vs. Virginia Tech

Jan 27, 2024; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier (15) dunks the basketball against Pittsburgh Panthers guard Jaland Lowe (15), center Federiko Federiko (33) and forward Zack Austin (55) during the second half at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament last year. Now, the Hurricanes are in danger of failing to qualify for the 68-team field next month.

Virginia Tech, which lost in the first round of last year’s NIT, will need a big finish to return to the NCAA Tournament.

On Saturday afternoon, Miami (14-7, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) will host Virginia Tech (13-8, 5-5) in a battle between league rivals in Coral Gables, Fla.

The Hokies had won three straight ACC games before losing to seventh-ranked Duke, 77-67, on Monday.

“We squandered some opportunities,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “But better days are ahead.”

Miami beat host Virginia Tech, 75-71, on Jan. 13. Matthew Cleveland scored 21 points in that game, however, he has missed two straight games due to what Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga called a “badly bruised hip.”

Larranaga surely will have Hokies guard Sean Pedulla at the top of his scouting report. Pedulla leads the Hokies in scoring (15.5) and assists (4.5).

In addition, Pedulla scored a game-high 33 points in last month’s Hokies-Hurricanes matchup, making 13 of 23 shots, including 5 of 13 on 3-pointers. And even though he’s only 6-foot-1, he also had a game-high 10 rebounds.

The other two Hokies players to watch are Lynn Kidd and Hunter Cattoor. Kidd is averaging 13.9 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds, while Cattoor is contributing 13.8 points and shooting a team-best 43.1 percent from 3-point range.

Cattoor missed the earlier Miami game due to injury. Kidd had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting against the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes are just 3-5 in their past eight games, and that includes a 74-68 loss at North Carolina State on Tuesday.

Miami is powered by Norchad Omier, who is tops on the team in scoring (18.1) and rebounds (9.8).

Nijel Pack (14.7 points per game) and Wooga Poplar (14.6) also are the Hurricanes top 3-point threats at 44.7 and 39.3 percent shooting, respectively.

With Cleveland out, Miami has gone more to Paul Djobet, an athletic 6-7 freshman wing from France.

“Paul has practiced well all season,” Larranaga said. “With Cleveland out, he’s earned more playing time, and he was a plus-13 (on Jan. 27 against Pitt). He’s done a wonderful job.”

–Field Level Media

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