The year was 1976 and David Thompson (no, not that one) led FSU in scoring. There wasn’t a single home game against a team from a major conference. That was the last time Florida State finished a men’s basketball season with an undefeated home record...until today.
FSU beat Miami 66-57, finishing 18-0 at the Tuck in the process. Additionally, the win was FSU’s 24th on the season—the most regular season Division 1 wins in school history. It also ensures Florida State will finish the year with single-digit losses for the first time since 1988-89.
Senior Jarquez Smith got the start at power forward in his last home game and the big-man paid immediate dividends. A thunderous finish on an alley-oop brought the crowd to its feet, and he followed that up with multiple crafty finishes around the rim.
Unfortunately, Smith’s teammates missed a number of shots in the paint early, allowing Miami to take a 14-13 lead. The Hurricanes, led by some hot shooting from behind the arc, extended their lead to 23-19 with about 8 minutes to play in the first half. But FSU turned up the intensity on defense, and a series of deflections and steals sparked an 11-1 run over the next 2 minutes. The Noles’ lead grew as large as 35-28 with 4:08 remaining. The team looked poised to break the game wide open, as they have done so often this season in the friendly confines of the Tucker Center.
However, instead of pushing the lead to double-digits, FSU missed 6 consecutive shots (three within 6 feet) and went into half only up 37-34.
Florida State picked up 4 fouls in the first 4:08 of the second half, and the game devolved into a slug-fest at the kind of glacial pace Miami prefers. The Hurricanes came into the game ranked 331st in the country in tempo and spearheaded by super frosh Bruce Brown, they were able to slow the game down to a point where there were only 12 possessions in the first 9 minutes of the second half. Every offensive set saw the ‘Canes take the shot clock down below 8 seconds, and FSU was unable to push pace in transition, as Miami was content to concede rebounds in favor of getting back on defense.
Fortunately for the garnet and gold, Miami was unable to make shots for long stretches, with Davon Reed being the only Hurricane to make more than one field goal in the first 19:28 of the second half. And while FSU wasn’t exactly lighting up the nets, the ‘Noles made enough shots to push the lead out to eight on an end-of-clock three by Dwayne Bacon with 7:27 left in the game.
At that point, Leonard Hamilton decided to one-up his counterpoint, Jim Larranaga. With Miami looking to slow the pace, Ham switched FSU to a zone and forced the Hurricanes to run even more clock. The move flummoxed the ‘Cane offense and FSU extended the lead out to 11 points with 4:16 left, following a Mann to Bacon alley-oop.
But the Hurricanes wouldn’t go away quietly. Helped by some FSU misses, Miami cut the lead to 4 points with 19 seconds remaining. But a superb homerun pass from Jonathan Isaac and some brilliant scramble mode ball movement led to a game sealing and-1 from Bacon. FSU added one more bucket on a last-second layup from Xavier Rathan-Mayes for a final score of 66-57 (significant, since the final line was 7 points).
Bacon led the way with 23 points, while Smith added 11 on Senior Night.
With the win, Florida State clinches the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament and a double-bye. They will face the winner of Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest/Boston College Thursday night at 7 pm in quarterfinal play in Brooklyn, New York.