HQ forecast: Miami 68, Illinois 60
Our breakdown of Sunday's Round of 32 game between No. 7 Illinois vs. No. 2 Miami at 7:40 p.m. on TNT
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Tracy Abrams So. 6-1 10.7
G D.J. Richardson Sr. 6-3 12.5
G Brandon Paul Sr. 6-4 16.6
F Sam McLaurin Sr. 6-8 3.9
C Nnanna Egwu So. 6-11 6.4
FYI: Richardson and Paul each have played in 137 career games, moving into a tie for fourth place with Dee Brown and James Augustine. Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey are tied for the school record (139).
OFF THE BENCH
G Joseph Bertrand Jr. 6-6 7.4
F Tyler Griffey Sr. 6-9 7.1
F Myke Henry So. 6-6 3.3
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Shane Larkin So. 5-11 14.4
G Durand Scott Sr. 6-5 13.5
G Trey McKinney Jones Sr. 6-5 9.4
F Kenny Kadji Sr. 6-11 13.1
C Julian Gamble Sr. 6-10 6.7
FYI: Larkin has recorded a steal in 30 games this season and has multiple steals in 20 games.
OFF THE BENCH
G Rion Brown Jr. 6-6 6.0
C Reggie Johnson Sr. 6-10 7.0
C Tonye Jekiri Fr. 7-0 1.3
Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) Austin, Texas
TV: TNT — Tim Brando (play-by-play), former Duke star Mike Gminski (analyst) and Otis Livingston (reports) have the call.
Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Jerry Hester (expert analysis) have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDAN 1490-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.
Series: Illinois leads 1-0. Last meeting — Illinois 86, Miami 76, Dec. 28, 1968.
FYI: The games in Austin are Miami’s first in the continental U.S. played west of the Mississippi River during Jim Larranaga’s two years with the program. The Hurricanes played at Hawaii this season, and the farthest west they played this season was at Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers.
Marcus Jackson’s storylines
1 The Hurricanes are big. Like really big. Miami’s starting frontcourt players go 6-foot-11, 242 pounds and 6-10, 250. If those guys get in trouble, Jim Larranaga can call 6-10, 292 and 7-0, 227 off the bench. The strength of the Illinois team is its backcourt. The frontcourt guys will have to earn their scholarships today. “We think we’re the toughness of the team,” Illini forward Sam McLaurin said. “We set the tone defensively. We’ve got to make sure we do that for this game.”
2 In each of Illinois’ last five games, the Illini failed to shoot at least 40 percent. Yet, when teams talk about the strength of the Illini, shooting is the first thing they mention. “They shoot the ball really well. We really have to be on our P’s and Q’s on helping and getting back because those guys can shoot the ball and those guys run in the open court, so we’ve got to get back and defend,” Miami’s Reggie Johnson said. Against Colorado, Illinois went 8 for 31 from long range. To combat Miami’s size, the Illini will have to hit the three ball with more consistency. “We’re gonna have to throw a bunch in,” John Groce said.
3 The key piece in the Miami machine is point guard Shane Larkin. Groce compared Barry’s son with Michigan’s Trey Burke, who gave the Illini fits this season. Life will be a lot easier for Illinois if it can keep the diminutive guard out of the paint. “He’s talented; he’s really good. He has some tendencies similar to Burke in that he’s got the ability to put some big numbers up scoring, and he’s also got the ability to make guys around him better equally well. He does a great job; he’s kind of the head of the snake,” Groce said.
Miami 68, UI 60
One edge the Illini have: bodies in the stands. Illini fans made an impression with their turnout Friday, so maybe during one of those prolonged scoring droughts the fans can provide a lift. Miami is aware of the emotional lift the Illini might receive, but it’s not unfamiliar. In the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C., the Hurricanes played against North Carolina State and North Carolina, both featuring sizable fan contingents. “It’s not who we play, it’s not where we play, it’s how we play,” Larranaga said. (N-G record: 23-12)