|No. 6 Miami begins key stretch at George Washington|
Miami comes out of an 11-day break for final exams Saturday to begin what could be a defining stretch of road and neutral-site games.
The No. 6 Hurricanes (8-0) end their layoff with a trip to the nation's capital to take on George Washington (5-5).
After that, they meet host Hawaii in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, play two more games there, then open Atlantic Coast Conference play with road games at Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech before getting back home against Florida State on Jan. 7.
"That's a lot of games in a short period of time all away from home," said coach Jim Larranaga, whose team last played Dec. 5, beating Boston University. "So we're going to know a lot more about ourselves around the middle of January."
The Hurricanes have seven wins by double digits, plus a five-point victory at Minnesota in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but Larranaga is looking for GWU to challenge his team.
The Colonials are a modest 5-5 after losing at Penn State in their last outing but have a win over Temple to their credit and have played a schedule that has included losses to Florida State, Xavier and Kansas State. Larranaga expects a raucous crowd.
The school is promoting the Colonial's first meeting against a Top 10 team at their Smith Center home in over two years as a "Whiteout" game with free T-shirts to fans.
"First of all, they're very, very good at home," Larranaga said. "They've always been very good at home and there should be a great crowd on hand cheering them on. Secondly, they're older guys.
"You have a guy like Yuta Watanabe. He's a 6-9 player, but last year he guarded Ja'Quan Newton because he's such a versatile defender. People have said he's one of the top 10 defenders in the country. So that's one thing -- trying to score against a team that plays a 6-9 guy against your point guard."
Watanabe is averaging 15.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
The Colonials also have an inside duo that is capable of scoring inside or outside. Forwards Arnaldo Toro and Patrick Steeves combine to average 19 points per game.
"So they are somewhat similar to some of the teams we've seen," Larranaga said. "Just better."
Miami has five players averaging at least 9.9 points per game, led by forward Dewan Huell at 13.1.
The Colonials' last outing was a 74-54 loss at Penn State, ending their three-game winning streak.
"We dug ourselves a monster hole," GWU coach Maurice Joseph said. "We had to make some decisions, make some choices about what kind of team we want to be in terms of our grit, our competitive spirit, our will to compete, and I thought we came out in the second half a little bit more spirited."
Miami likely will be without sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr., their No. 3 scorer (11.7 ppg) and leading assist man (5.0 apg) for a second game. He is resting a hand injury and was originally expected to miss two games.