What once appeared to be a strong bounce-back effort took a little less than four minutes to completely unravel.
Carrying an early lead on the road against favored Miami, the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles went cold on offense and were outscored by 18 points over the last 3:55 of the first half, allowing the Hurricanes to surge to a 78-62 win in front of a sold-out crowd at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.
“It's obvious that we've still got some work to do,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We've got two more opportunities. We squandered this one.”
After jumping out to an 18-11 lead midway through the first half, the Seminoles (19-9, 10-4 ACC) surrendered a 13-2 run and trailed 24-20 at the break.
Things didn't get much better in the second half. Miami channeled its inner Duke, setting up at the perimeter and seemingly draining shots at will. The Hurricanes hit five 3-point shots in the first seven-plus minutes of that half and finished with nine 3s for the game.
The Hurricanes' 45-percent (9-20) performance from beyond the arc was well above their season average of 35.6 percent, and came on the heels of Duke torching the Seminoles from 3-point range three days ago.
“It's just amazing to me how sometimes teams get hot against you, when we have normally been a pretty good defensive team,” Hamilton said.
Miami (17-10, 8-6) took a page out of Duke's playbook, using their speedy guards to drive into the line and then kick it out for an often open look for a 3-point attempt. Playing without center Reggie Johnson, who was declared ineligible just before the game, the Hurricanes were forced to play a smaller lineup that gave the Seminoles trouble defensively.
UM often spread out the floor and waited patiently for shots, and was able to effectively neutralize FSU's size advantage.
“That has been an achilles heel for us,” Hamilton said. “We thought maybe we should've come out and played zone, which we never play. You cant come out and anticipate a team shooting that much better than they normally shoot.”
The loss handed FSU it's first back-to-back setbacks since Dec. 30. The Seminoles, now third in the Atlantic Coast Conference Standings, face another tall order – a visit to Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena on Thursday – as they attempt to get back on track.
“I think this team has had a tendency to always bounce back,” Hamilton said. “And hopefully we'll regroup like we have all along.”
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