CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — The University of Miami men's basketball team got its season off to a great start against non-conference opponents, and now the Canes want to keep that momentum going strong.
The Hurricanes head into Saturday's game against Florida State with a 1-0 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and guard Ja'Quan Newton is confident there are many more wins to come.
"I see our potential as being going to the Final Four and going undefeated in the league," Newton said Thursday.
Nothing like a little bulletin board material to spruce up an intrastate rivalry. Not that the Hurricanes are dissing Florida State, even though the Seminoles have lost their first two league games.
"They are the most talented team we will have faced so far," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
The No. 12-ranked Hurricanes (12-1) have played only two ranked teams — Utah and Butler. Their league victory came Saturday against Syracuse and their strength of schedule is only 69th.
As a result, the matchup against Florida State offers a welcome chance to see if Miami is as good as Newton and poll voters believe. The Hurricanes' lone loss came at home against Northeastern and their past six games have been wins by double figures.
"We have so many different weapons," Newton said. "There's no position we don't have. We're a complete team."
Not so much in the first half of the past two games, when the Hurricanes scored only 27 and 17 points. Larranaga blamed an erratic practice schedule over the holidays.
Even with those recent difficulties, Miami ranks 15th in the nation in shooting and 26th in scoring, averaging nearly 84 points.
The Hurricanes will need their shooting touch because a high-scoring game is likely against the Seminoles (10-4), who are coming off a 106-90 loss to North Carolina on Monday.
"The first challenge for us is to get back defensively, because they are playing faster than ever before," Larranaga said.
Larranaga said the Seminoles have three NBA-bound guards, led by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who had a memorable performance when he played at Miami a year ago as a freshman. Rathan-Mayes scored 30 points in the final 4:38, including 26 consecutive Seminoles points without missing a shot, as he tried to rally them from an 18-point deficit.
Larranaga smiled as he reminisced about the game because Miami hung on to win.
"Rathan-Mayes was absolutely unconscious," Larranaga said. "After the game he should have declared for the draft — he was that good."
More challenges await beginning Tuesday, when Miami plays the first of three consecutive road games — at No. 4 Virginia, Clemson and Boston College. While Newton talked of running the table in the ACC, Larranaga said he's braced for ups and downs in the 13-team, talent-rich league.
"We might have as many as 10 teams make the NCAA tournament," Larranaga said. "Someone is going to finish 13th and is going to have NBA guys on their roster."
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