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Hurricanes Head To No. 8 Connecticut

Hurricanes Head To No. 8 Connecticut

Feb. 16, 2004

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UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI (13-12, 3-8 BIG EAST) vs.
#5/#5 UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT (19-5, 7-3 BIG EAST)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004 – 7:00 p.m.
Hartford Civic Center (16,294) – Hartford, Conn.
TV – Fox Sports Net Florida; Radio – WQAM (560 AM)
Website – hurricanesports.com

ON CONNECTICUT:
Connecticut enters its game with Miami with a record of 19-5, 7-3 in the BIG EAST, following a 75-68 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Huskies, who have lost two straight games, are ranked eighth in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Basketball polls.

Connecticut has been led this season by the junior inside-outside combination of guard Ben Gordon and center Emeka Okafor. Okafor, the preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year, is averaging 19.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game. Gordon ranks second on the team in scoring (17.9 ppg) and has connected on 62-141 (.440) from three-point range.

THE SERIES:
Miami and Connecticut meet for the 23rd time. The Huskies lead the all-time series 15-7. The Hurricanes have won five of the last eight games against Connecticut. Miami and Connecticut split both games last season. The last nine meetings between Miami and Connecticut have been decided by seven points or less.

LAST GAME:
SYRACUSE 91, MIAMI 74
February 14, 2004
Convocation Center, Coral Gables, Fla.

Hakim Warrick tied a BIG EAST record by making all 11 of his shot attempts and finished with 27 points, leading Syracuse to a 91-74 win over the University of Miami at the Convocation Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

Warrick’s perfect effort was part of a season-high 64.4 percent shooting effort by Syracuse. Gerry McNamara added 23 for the Orangemen, who made only seven turnovers in the game.

William Frisby had 16 points to lead Miami. Darius Rice had 14 for Miami, but left the game with 15:02 remaining after injuring his right foot.

The Orangemen shot 71.9 percent in the opening half and led 54-33 at the break. Miami got within 65-52 with 13:02 left after a Guillermo Diaz basket, but McNamara hit three 3-pointers in the next two minutes to fuel an 11-2 run and push the lead back to 76-54.

Diaz finished 13 and Rodrigue Djahue scored 10 for Miami.

LAST MEETING VERSUS CONNECTICUT:
MIAMI 77, #11/#8 CONNECTICUT 76
January 20, 2003
Convocation Center, Coral Gables, FL

Darius Rice scored a career-high 43 points, and came up with a steal and a last-second three-pointer to lead the Hurricanes to a dramatic 77-76 victory over Connecticut at the Convocation Center in Coral Gables, FL.

James Jones, who was playing with a sore shoulder, added 11 points and Armondo Surratt scored three critical layups down the stretch to finished with nine points for the Hurricanes.

Ben Gordon scored a career-high 32 points to pace the Huskies. Taliek Brown finished with 13 points, while Emeka Okafor was in foul trouble all game and finished with just eight points in the loss.

Down by four, 72-68, with eight seconds left, Surratt drove the length of the floor and scored quickly on a layup with three seconds to play. With no timeouts left, Connecticut tried to quickly get the ball in play, but Rice stepped in front of Shamon Tooles’ inbounds pass. Rice’s momentum carried him out to the three-point line in the right corner, and he turned and shot quickly to nail the game-winner with less than a second remaining. A desperation heave by the Huskies at the buzzer was not close.

Rice finished the game 16-of-27 from the field, including 7-of-12 from three- point range.

A WIN AGAINST CONNECTICUT WOULD:
***Improve Miami’s record to 14-12, 4-8 in the BIG EAST.
***Mark Perry Clark’s 250th career win.
***Snap the Hurricanes’ seven-game losing streak.
***Snap Miami’s three-game road losing streak to UConn.
***Mark the 10th consecutive season in which the Hurricanes have defeated a ranked opponent.

UP NEXT:
Following the Connecticut game the Hurricanes’ their road trip against 19th-ranked Providence (February 21, 2:00 p.m.). The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net Florida.

TV/RADIO COVERAGE:
Miami’s game versus Connecticut is being produced by ESPN Regional Television and will be broadcast in Miami on Fox Sports Net Florida. Bob Picozzi and Bob Wenzel will call the action.

The game will be broadcast on the Hurricane Radio Network WQAM (560 AM). Josh Darrow will provide the play-by-play. Brian London will serve as studio host. Fans can also catch the game on the web at hurricanesports.com.

ON THE COACHES:
University of Miami head coach Perry Clark is in his fourth season with the Hurricanes and 15th season overall as a collegiate head coach. Clark is 64-50 (.561) at Miami while his career record in 14 seasons stands at 249-195 (.561).

Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun is in his 18th season with the Huskies and 32nd season overall. His career record is 666-301 (.743) while his record at Connecticut is 418-164.

RICE INJURES FOOT AGAINST SYRACUSE:
Miami forward Darius Rice suffered a mid-foot sprain of his right foot with 15:02 left in the second half against Syracuse on February 14th and will be out 7 to 10 days. Rice’s foot, which was placed in a cast after the game, will be reevaluated on Friday, February 20th.

RICE SETS CAREER MARK:
With his start against Georgetown on February 7th senior forward Darius Rice established a new school-record for starts in a career with 109. The previous record was held by Kevin Norris who started 108 games at point guard from 1994-98. Rice has now started 110 career games.

RICE MOVES UP BIG EAST SCORING LIST:
Miami forward Darius Rice scored 14 points against Syracuse on February 14 becoming the 24th player in BIG EAST history to score 1,000 points in BIG EAST play. Rice is the second Hurricane to reach the 1,000-point plateau in conference play joining Tim James who recorded 1,062 points in 72 career BIG EAST games from 1995-99. Rice leads all active BIG EAST players in points scored.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES:
Miami guard Rob Hite may be the most improved player in the BIG EAST this season. The sophomore has been the Hurricanes’ most consistant offensvie threat scoring in double-figures in 23 of 25 games this season. Hite’s numbers are significantly improved in almost every category this season.

NO DAY AT THE BEACH:
Miami’s 73-72 win over No. 11 Connecticut last season marked the ninth consecutive season that the Hurricanes defeated a ranked opponent at home.

VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS:
Miami is 0-3 against ranked teams this season. The Hurricanes are 19-21 versus ranked opponents since 1996-97 and have defeated at least one ranked team in each of the last nine seasons. Miami is 28-87 (.243) all-time against ranked teams including a 25-73 (.255) record since the rebirth of the program in 1985.

WORKING OVERTIME:
Miami’s game versus Boston College on February 1 was its fourth overtime game of the season. Miami played a school single-season record five overtime games last season. Miami has played at least one overtime contest in each of the last six seasons. UM has amassed a 9-10 record (including tournament games) in BIG EAST overtime contests (5-6 at home). The ‘Canes own a 25-28 overall record in overtime contests during their history (5-6 in double-overtime games and a 20-22 mark in single-overtime contests).

PLAYING ABOVE THE RIM:
The Hurricanes have recorded 84 dunks (3.36 per game) already this season. Miami registered only 50 dunks all of last season. At this current pace the Hurricanes would record 101 dunks which would be the most since UM had 111 dunks during the 1988-89 season. Rob Hite leads the Hurricanes in dunks this season with 25 this season.

A MODEL OF EFFICIENCY:
Rob Hite ranks 13th in the BIG EAST in scoring at 16.3 ppg but a closer look shows that he is one of the most efficient scorers in the league averaging 1.46 points per shot attempt (392 points/269 field goal attempts). His 1.46 fourth among the BIG EAST’s Top-20 scorers (through Feb. 13) behind a trio of post players.

HIGH FLYERS:
The University of Miami’s backcourt may be the most athletic in the country. Miami’s guards have an average vertical jump of 38.2 inches. All of UM’s guards have vertical jumps of at least 36 inches. Leading the way is freshman Guillermo Diaz who has a vertical leap of 41 inches.

CATCHING FIRE:
Darius Rice has recorded 34 games of 20-or-more points during his UM career including nine games this season. Even more impressive is that Rice has gone for 20-or-more points in a single half 10 times, including 20 points in the second half of UM’s last game versus Rutgers.

MR. CLUTCH:
This season against Georgetown on January 31 Rice hit a trey with 12 second remaining to send the game to overtime marking the fifth time of his career he has either won or sent a game to overtime with a three-pointer at the end of regulation..

Last season Rice turned the trick four times. His three-point basket with 0.5 seconds left against Connecticut last season gave UM a 77-76 win.

Against Florida, Rice connected on a three-pointer from the right corner with 26 seconds remaining to tie the score.

Versus North Carolina, Rice hit a three-pointer, again from the right corner, to tie the score at 60-60 with three seconds left. Miami went on to win the game 64-61.

In Miami’s first meeting with Connecticut on January 11, Rice sent the game to overtime with a three-pointer from the tip of the key tying the score at 71-71 with two seconds left.

CLARK TOPS AMONG UM COACHES:
Fourth-year head Coach Perry Clark recorded 51 wins in his first three seasons with the Hurricanes marking the most wins by any UM basketball coach in his first three seasons. Clark is 13-7 this season giving him 64 wins as UM’s head coach. Clark needs one more victory to tie BIll Foster for the wins (65) by a UM coach in his first four seasons.

TOP RECRUITING CLASS:
Head coach Perry Clark and his staff put together one of the nation’s top recruiting classes for this upcoming season. Miami’s class of forward Karron Clarke, guard Guillermo Diaz, guard Anthony Harris and forward/center Anthony King is ranked as high as eighth in the nation by Street & Smith’s.

MIAMI vs. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS:
Since joining The BIG EAST Conference beginning with the 1991-92 season, the Hurricanes have compiled an 91-43 (.679) record against non-conference opponents, including a 64-14 (.821) mark at home. Miami was 10-4 against non-conference opponents this season.

VS THE STATE OF FLORIDA:
Miami is 296-145 (.671) against teams from the state of Florida. Miami has won 31 of its last 35 games against Florida schools dating back to the 1992-93 season.

IT’S ALL ACADEMIC:
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the University of Miami men’s basketball program ranks third in the nation among the 117 Division I-A institutions with a 78 percent graduation rate for student-athletes who entered school from 1993-97 and earned their degrees within six years.

Only Stanford (100%) and Southern Methodist (83%) had higher graduation rates among Division I-A institutions. The national average for Division I-A men’s basketball players over that four-year period was 36 percent.

In addition the Hurricanes ranked in a tie for 19th among all 327 Division I institutions.

Graduation rates were tabulated and released by the NCAA in its 2003 NCAA Graduation Rates Report. The Hurricanes’ 78 percent graduation rate is the highest among any institution in the BIG EAST, ACC or SEC.

From 1993-94 to 1995-96 the Hurricanes registered a perfect 100 percent graduation rate.

For the 1995-96 class, both the UM men’s and women’s basketball programs registered 100 percent graduation rates. Miami was one of only six Division I-A institutions, along with BYU, Duke, Rice, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, to record a 100 percent graduation rate for that class in both men’s and women’s basketball.

UM SIGNS CENTER EARLY:
Head coach Perry Clark signed of 6-11, 233 pound center Chester “C.J.” Giles (Seattle, Wash.) to a national letter of intent during the early signing period.

Last season Giles averaged 8.2 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks per game earning third-team All-State honors and helping Rainier Beach High School to a 26-3 record and its second consecutive Class 3A State Championship. Rainier ended the season ranked 16th in the nation by USA Today.

Giles is ranked 39th overall and 7th at his position by Rivals.com. He is the 12th ranked high school center in the nation by Athlon Sports, is ranked among the Top-100 players in the nation by Lindy’s (No. 66) and The Sporting News (No. 87), and is an honorable mention All-America selection by Street & Smith’s.

RICE NAMED WOODEN AWARD CANDIDATE:
Senior forward Darius Rice has been named one of 50 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden College Basketball Player of the Year Award. Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his university that he is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The 2004 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American team and the presentation of the Legends of Coaching Award, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, April 10, 2004 and will be broadcast live on CBS.

RICE NAMED NAISMITH CANDIDATE:
Darius Rice has been named one of 30 preseason candidates for the 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. Members of the board were asked to name top male and female players who are most likely to be in contention for the award.

HURRICANES DISTRIBUTE DINNERS:
Members of the University of Miami men’s basketball team as well as several student-athletes from the Hurricanes’ football, women’s rowing, women’s track, women’s volleyball, men’s tennis and women’s soccer programs handed out Thanksgiving dinners to six Miami-area organizations prior to the start of the women’s basketball exhibition game versus The Tournament of Champions on November 17 at the Convocation Center.

The six Miami-area organizations who picked up dinners were: Children & Families, Ronald McDonald House, Gladstone Center, Florida Baptist Home, Universal Truth Center, and Child Hope.

The full dinners were donated by Sysco Food Services of South Florida. This Thanksgiving marked the eighth consecutive year that University of Miami Athletic Department and its student-athletes have reached out to the community during the holidays.

HURRICANES VISIT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:
Head coach Perry Clark and the University of Miami men’s basketball team spread some holiday cheer on Thursday with a visit to the pediatrics ward at Baptist Hospital in Miami.

“It is very important for our kids to give back to the community,” said head coach Perry Clark. “Giving of ones time is the greatest gift you can give, and I think we were able to spread some Christmas cheer today.”

The Hurricanes visited with children in pediatrics ward as well as the critical care unit. The Miami coaches and players signed autographs, took pictures with the children and distributed approximately 300 toys donated by Mattel, Inc.

“I think it means a lot to the children here at the hospital, and it means a lot to us to see the kids smile,” said All-American forward Darius Rice. “Hopefully we were able to brighten up their holiday.”