Leonard Hamilton watched his team's next opponent, the Miami Hurricanes, take on the No. 1 team in the country last week.
FSU guard Michael Snaer said that Miami has become the hunted team in the ACC.
By the time the game concluded, Hamilton was sure he might indeed have been watching the country's best team. He's just not sure if it was the one with the gaudy number next to his name – so thorough was No. 25 Miami's 90-63 dismantling of top-ranked Duke.
Naturally, the Hurricanes's performance more than caught Hamilton's eye headed into Florida State's matchup today with its in-state rival (6 p.m., ESPNU).
“They played like they're not only no. 1 team in college – they played like they could probably move it up to the next level on that particular night,” Hamilton said. “They probably looked like they could've played in the NBA.”
UM's win over the Blue Devils is just the latest in a six-game winning streak that has helped the Hurricanes compile the Atlantic Coast Conference's only perfect 5-0 record.
Coach Jim Larranaga has six seniors at his disposal – a group that includes three of Miami's top-four scorers.
Guards Durand Scott (14.6 points per game) and Kenny Kadji (12.2) lead the way, with 6-10, 292-pound forward Reggie Johnson adding 11.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Sophomore guard Shane Larkin is also a big part of the mix.
“We expect them and their fans to be as emotional, involved and charged as any time we've ever been to Miami,” Hamilton said. “Being on the verge and being hungry to go to the NCAA for the first time since (2008) … I think it makes for a more challenging situation, but I think it can't do anything but help us grow.”
Guard Durand Scott leads Miami with nearly 15 points per game.
FSU guard Michael Snaer sees some parallels between the Hurricanes and last year's Florida State team, which at times reached great heights, such as a 7-game ACC winning streak that included big wins over North Carolina and Duke, only to find some humbling moments along the way – like the surprising loss to struggling Boston College that snapped that streak.
Snaer said that as a team learns to adjust to wearing a target on a nightly basis – as the Seminoles did a year ago – it can sometimes be prone to an occasional upset.
“Everybody's hunting for Miami right now,” he said. “They're vets so they know how to handle it. You've really, really got to be on top of your game when you're the team that's being hunted every night. Because every team is going to bring it, every team is coming after you. And I think we can be that team that can pull that upset.”
If they're to do that, the Seminoles will likely have to build on the momentum that came from the end of last week's win over Clemson. Snaer knocked down a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that completed a 13-point comeback, but FSU spent much of that game looking sloppy and disjointed.
Still, Snaer is well aware of what an emotional win can do for a team as it moves forward.
“I remember we played Duke last year at Duke, and we made a shot like that and the momentum coming from that game was huge,” he said. “And the momentum that can come from this next Miami game could be even bigger.”##
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