Tough test awaits FSU men

The team defeated Duke and North Carolina and routed its state rival. There are post players that could score and perimeter threats that led to success in the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said he sees some similarities between this year's Miami team and last year's Seminoles.

The team, strikingly, is both Florida State of 2011-12 and Miami of 2012-13.

Florida State started slow but went 12-4 in the ACC a year ago, using its core group of six seniors to overwhelm North Carolina by 33 points and edge Duke in Durham, N.C. And the Seminoles went on to finish 25-10, earning the program’s first conference title.

Miami was sluggish early but is now 10-0 in the ACC, and its veteran-laden roster has helped the Hurricanes steamroll North Carolina by 26 points and Duke by 27 points. The Hurricanes, which are ranked No. 4 in the coaches’ poll, are 19-3 and on the verge of one of the best seasons in the program’s history.

The attention of the ACC and its fans is often Carolina-centric, with many focusing in on the success or failures of teams like Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest. But Florida State last year and now Miami are impressing with their performances.

“The similarities are that both are experienced,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of the 2012 Seminoles and 2013 Hurricanes. “This is a (Miami) team that is playing on a mission. They don’t get rattled. They don’t have the highs and the lows.”

Miami is playing about as well as anyone in the nation, and the Hurricanes have been untouchable the past 11 games.

The Hurricanes average 70 points per game, and the wealth is spread across the roster. Five players average 9.5 or more points a game, led by Durand Scott (14.0), Kenny Kadji (13.5) and Shane Larkin (13.0).

Larkin, the son of former Cincinnati Reds standout Barry Larkin, has developed in a star in his sophomore season. He is shooting 43 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, distributing the ball well to his teammates and pulling down 4.2 rebounds per game.

“There is no doubt that they have one of the top two or three point guards in the country,” Hamilton said. “He’s the real deal. And when you are loaded with 3-point shooters at three other spots, and a couple post guys that will make you pay, they are a potent team.”

A month ago, Miami was not ranked after losing two of three games in Hawaii. But after 11 straight wins, the Hurricanes are the class of the ACC and will try to sweep the series from state rival Florida State when the teams play in Tallahassee on Wednesday night.

“Every game is a must win for us,” FSU guard Ian Miller said. “We can’t risk any more losses if we are trying to get where we want to go.”

It will be a challenge against a Hurricanes team that is playing some exceptional basketball. Miami coach Jim Larranaga said the team is handling the increased attention – both in the stands and in the media – well the past four weeks.

“So far, so good,” Larranaga said. “They have a clear mindset as to what they want to accomplish. They've worked very hard. I think when you make a commitment to something and you're willing to devote a lot of time and energy, then you start to see the results of all your hard work, you feel very, very good about it. … They were pretty hungry to try to do something that they hadn't done before.”

Ian Miller update

Miller has been playing through pain for months now and he’s mostly resting between games to give his injured foot a break. He doesn’t think that he will need surgery after the season, but the only thing that will help – rest – is what he can’t do.

He thinks after a month or so off the foot that it will heal in the offseason on its own.

“I go so hard in the minutes that I do get to play in the game that I need a day or two just for my foot to calm back down,” Miller said. “It’s frustrating at times but I’ve learned to deal with it.”

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