Pitt coach Kevin Stallings knows the challenge awaiting his team Wednesday in Miami in its first of three consecutive road games.

"I think (the Hurricanes) are a team that can make a deep, deep, deep tournament run," Stallings said Monday morning on an ACC coaches conference call.

And, yes, he did say "deep" three times.

Of course, he should know. Miami (15-5, 4-4) defeated Pitt (8-14, 0-9) on Dec. 30 at Petersen Events Center, 67-53, in the first of nine consecutive defeats to open the conference schedule.

Miami was ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll on Dec. 18, but fell out of the top 25 last week for the first time. The Hurricanes' are 5-5 since their 10-0 start to the season.

But that's history, and another team's concern.

Stallings and his players are looking inward toward themselves as they prepare for the second half of the ACC season, he said.

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"Our focus has continued to be the same and that's we're not worried about what we're confronted with," he said. "We're worried about trying to make ourselves better.

"Miami's got a terrific team. I thought that when we played. We can't worry about that."

Asked if his team is taking a defiant attitude toward critics outside its locker room who believe a winless ACC record is possible.

Stallings said defiance is the wrong word choice, but belief might be better.

"I would call it they've continued to stick together," he said. "Continued to be coachable. They still believe if we play like we're capable of playing for a 40-minute period, we can win some games.

"That's what's important, that they stay encouraged and positive about themselves."

This article is written by Jerry DiPaola from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.