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UM men, women face tough ACC opening basketball games Thursday

No more warm-up games. The new year begins with a pair of tough Atlantic Coast Conference season openers for the University of Miami’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The men’s team, on a three-game winning streak, plays at home Thursday night against 18th-ranked North Carolina State (12-1), one of the hottest teams in the conference. The Wolfpack leads the ACC in field-goal percentage at 52.6 percent and ranks third in scoring with 89.4 points per game.

The UM women open their ACC season at home on Thursday at 2 p.m. against Virginia Tech (13-0). The Hurricanes (12-3) were ranked in the Top 25 most of the nonconference season but slipped out this week following a 10-point loss to Central Michigan.

Dewan Hernandez had still not been cleared to play as of Wednesday morning, so the Hurricanes (8-4) might be forced to make do with a seven-man rotation in a conference that has six teams ranked in the Top 25. Duke is ranked No. 1, Virginia is No. 4, Florida State is No. 9, Virginia Tech is No. 10, and North Carolina is ranked 15th.

“We are happy with where we are, but we are very short-handed,” UM coach Jim Larranaga said. “[NC State coach] Kevin Keatts and his staff have done a real good job. They’ll be a real challenge for us because they play 10 guys and try to wear you down and we’re playing seven and some of those guys, we don’t have any frontcourt subs for them.”

The Miami women have won the past 14 games against Virginia Tech. The Hokies are one of seven remaining undefeated teams in Division I. Senior guard Taylor Emery is their leading scorer with 17.7 points per game. Redshirt senior forward Regan Magarity averages 14 points and an ACC-leading 14.1 rebounds per game. The Hokies reached the WNIT championship game last season.

The Hurricanes are led by redshirt junior forward Beatrice Mompremier, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds against CMU. Senior center Emese Hof has been a standout all season with five double-doubles.

Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.