Miami will be looking for continued improvements from true freshmen guards Wooga Poplar and Bensley Joseph when the Hurricanes host Florida AM on Sunday night.
It's the third straight game against a state rival for Miami (2-1), which lost to visiting UCF on Nov. 13 but held on to win 68-66 at Florida Atlantic on Tuesday.
FAMU (1-1) and Miami have only played each other once, and that was four years ago, when the Hurricanes prevailed, 90-59.
As for Poplar, a 6-5 guard from Philadelphia, he didn't score in Miami's first two games, playing a total of just four minutes. He took no shots.
But on Tuesday, he broke through with an impressive performance, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes. He made 4 of 5 shots from the floor, including a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws and added one rebound and one assist.
Joseph, a 6-1 guard from Boston, got no playing time in Miami's first game. Since then, however, he played 17 minutes and sank a 3-pointer against UCF. Against FAU, he played 13 minutes and went 4 for 4 from the foul line.
The Hurricanes are counting on their defense to handle the Rattlers on Sunday night.
"FAMU is going to come (here) and play as hard as they can," Joseph said. "But our team is big on defense. That's what will win us a lot of games."
Besides the freshmen, Miami will rely on their two leading scorers, veterans Kameron McGusty (20.7 points per game) and Isaiah Wong (15.0). Wong made the winning layup with 0.7 seconds left to beat FAU, and McGusty also leads the team in rebounds (7.0).
Meanwhile, the Rattlers return all five starters from last season's 8-12 team that went 7-5 in the SWAC. They also added a pair of Division I transfers in Dimingus Stevens and Chase Barrs.
FAMU's top player is MJ Randolph, a triple-double threat who leads the team in scoring (24.0), rebounds (8.0), assists (8.0) and steals (2.5). Jalen Speer is the team's other double-digit scorer (10.0).
FAMU was impressive in its season-opening 67-57 loss to Kansas State as Randolph had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists. In Monday's 95-70 win over Le Moyne-Owen, he had 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
"We're proud of our guys," Rattlers coach Robert McCullum said after Monday's victory. "Now it's on to prepare for Miami."
--Field Level Media