Canes to Face N.C. State

Before the season, Reggie Johnson circled the game against North Carolina State.

Reggie Johnson has been looking forward to playing N.C. State.

The Wolfpack were the preseason pick to win the ACC, Miami was fifth.

N.C. State beat Miami twice and narrowly edged the Hurricanes for an NCAA tournament bid and took full advantage of the opportunity advancing to the Sweet 16 while Miami’s season ended in the second round of the N.I.T.

Then, there’s the four-game winning streak N.C. State has over Miami.

So you can understand why Johnson circled this game.

The No. 14 Miami Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0) take on No. 19 N.C. State (16-5, 5-3) in Raleigh on Saturday at 4 p.m., which will be televised on CBS. Miami is 0-6 at N.C. State.

“N.C. State is the favorite (in the ACC) obviously, but that’s a game that I’m really looking forward to,” Johnson said before the season. “Don’t get me wrong I’m looking forward to any game, but N.C. State is going to be a great matchup for us. They have some of the top guys in the league, went to the Sweet 16 last year, it’s going to be a great matchup.”

Johnson is coming off his best game since returning from an eight-game absence due to a broken left thumb. Johnson scored just four points in Miami’s 73-64 at Virginia Tech on Wednesday, but pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. Johnson is just 2 for 14 from the floor in three games since returning.

While Johnson, whose scoring average has dipped to 9.9, is working to regain his form, the Hurricanes have four players averaging in double digits led by Durand Scott’s 13.8 average. Kenny Kadji (13.3), Shane Larkin (12.9), and Trey McKinney-Jones (10.2).

Miami has won eight in a row and has their highest ranking in the AP Poll since February 2002. A win over N.C. State will likely be another jump in the polls for the Hurricanes.

Like Miami, N.C. State has five capable scorers led by ACC Preseason Player of the Year C.J. Leslie, a 6-foot-9 junior forward who is averaging 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.

After starting the season with a 14-2 record, N.C. State has lost three of five including a 58-55 defeat to Virginia on Tuesday.

Last season, N.C. State beat Miami 78-73 on Jan. 22 in Coral Gables and 77-73 on Feb. 29 in Raleigh.

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