After the Millett Hall meltdown last week, the Miami University RedHawks (2-5) will come out of the tunnel this week looking to turn the tide against the Temple University Owls (5-2).
“We have to continue to get better,” point guard Kenny Hayes said. “We can’t keep our heads down. We have to look at the good things we did and take those and continue to get better. Take those to the next game. These next couple days of practice are important for us because we have to get ready for Temple which is another good team on our home court. The best thing for us to do now is to keep our heads up and stay focused.”
The Red and White will face its second Atlantic-10 opponent in as many weeks, but the Owls bring a different resume to Oxford.
Although the ailing ‘Hawks are still searching for a team identity, the stats support their ability to shoot the trifecta. The Red and White are hearing lots of nylon and are shooting 40.8 percent as a team from downtown. The stat ranks the RedHawks at 26th in the nation, just behind the Duke University Blue Devils. Forward Nick Winbush is the largest gunner in the arsenal coming in at 13th in the nation and shooting a blistering 52.6 percent.
The Owls will look to deprive the Red and White of their weapons, bringing the best scoring defense (56 PPG) and three-point shooting percentage defense (.23) that the A-10 has to offer into the ‘Hawks hardwood home.
“Against these real good teams, if you want to beat them, it’s got to be a knockout,” Head Coach Charlie Coles said. “We have to put things together a little bit better. We got confused on offense last week a lot. We have to get better. We have guys in the ball game where our communication is really bad. That is not good. Even though we know what were doing and everybody will say lets do it, we aren’t really doing a very good job of carrying it out. When we do a good job of carrying it out we will score.”
Coles’ squad has lost every contest this season when it has allowed 60 points or more and it is key that they keep tabs on the Owls who have averaged 63 PPG, third worst in the A-10. The RedHawk defense will need to smother senior Ryan Brooks (13.6 PPG), junior Lavoy Allen (12.1) and sophomore Juan Fernandez (11.3).
“They are a tough ball club, a talented ball club, they are good,” Coles said. “We haven’t found anybody yet where when the game is in the balance, that we just take it. We have a collective identity. Our identity is splattered all over the place right now. We got time. We are not a young team but we’re a new team, when you considered Antonio Ballard and Rodney Haddix and Winbush. This is the first year they have really started, so we have to get better. Our veterans got to do a better job.”
Hayes leads the RedHawk trio with (13.1 PPG). His wingmen include Winbush (13) and Haddix (10.4).
Tip-off will come at 7 p.m. Tuesday.