The smallest man on Campbell University’s roster will present the biggest challenge for the University of Miami basketball team on Saturday afternoon. Chris Clemons, a 5-9 senior guard, leads the nation in scoring with 31 points per game and the Hurricanes will try to stop him in their final non-conference game.
Tipoff is 4 p.m. at the Watsco Center.
“He’s the leading scorer in the country, and people have told me — I don’t get to see all the under 5-10 guys — but people say he’s the best 5-10 or under player in the country,” said UM coach Jim Larranaga.
The Hurricanes (7-4) have their own undersized standout point guard, 5-7 Chris Lykes, who said he is looking forward to facing Clemons. The matchup of Lykes versus Clemons should be fun for fans to watch.
“It’s an interesting storyline, but it’s really not Chris Lykes versus Chris Clemons,” Larranaga said. “It’s really Miami versus Campbell. Campbell is a very good offensive team. They shoot the ball very well. They’re shooting about 29 or 30 threes a game. They took Georgetown to overtime, very high-scoring affair.”
The Canes, meanwhile, have been forced to make do with a rotation of just seven players. Forward Dewan Hernandez remains on the bench as his eligibility is being reviewed, and backup center Deng Gak is out with a knee injury.
“From 2011 to today we’ve been building toward something, trying to establish a tradition of really good basketball and being able to compete with the best teams in our league, which means you can compete with the best teams in the country,” Larranaga said. “I think we made a major step forward in that direction for the first seven years. Unfortunately, based on circumstances beyond our control, we’ve had to take a step back and start over.”
The 24th-ranked UM women (11-2) are also at home this weekend. They host Central Michigan University (8-2) at 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the Miami Holiday Classic. The Canes are coming off back-to-back convincing wins over SEC teams. They beat Vanderbilt 90-65 and Alabama 101-74.
“We’re happy where we’re at,” said UM women’s coach Katie Meier. “I am still pushing this team. I don’t think we’re close to where we need to be. I always want us to overachieve.”