Coming off a 2-0 road trip that saw FSU scorch the nets, fans were hopeful the good times would keep rolling against the rival Miami Hurricanes. But in a reversal of roles, it was Florida State who couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean while standing on a boat and the ‘Canes who caught fire early and stayed hot throughout. Add pure domination on the glass from Miami and the result was a lopsided loss for the Seminoles, 86-63.
This was the first time Jim Larranaga’s squad in Coral Gables has defeated Leonard Hamilton and the ‘Noles since January 7, 2018.
Darin Green Jr. started things off with a made basket and Jalen Warley quickly followed suit to make it 4-1 FSU. From there, it was all Miami. Seriously.
The Hurricanes used a 13-0 run to grab the lead and never looked back. The run featured two threes over a flat-footed Green, and another three after an offensive rebound (that admittedly was corralled by the Hurricanes following a blatant shove in the back of Matthew Cleveland that went uncalled). The fast start was exactly what Miami wanted and took the crowd out of the game early.
Coach Hamilton tried to stem the tide with a timeout, but it didn’t work. Nijel Pack hit another Miami three—his third of the first five minutes—and Miami got a run out after a Florida State miss to make it 19-4. Warley finally ended the Hurricanes’ run at 18 with a nice move in the lane. But that was just a temporary reprieve as the Miami onslaught continued. Wooga Poplar and Isaiah Wong buried back-to-back threes, UM’s 5th and 6th of the opening 8 minutes, and the FSU deficit stood at 29-9.
Florida State got a few things going on offense, including two straight buckets at the rim for Naheem McLeod. However, the Seminoles defense had no answers for Miami’s athletic, playmaking guards. Pack hit his 4th three of the half to give the Hurricanes a 39-17 lead, and then after a long two by Cleveland, Harland Beverly caught FSU napping and finished a backdoor cut with an emphatic dunk. At the under 8 timeout, Miami held a 41-19 lead thanks to 68.2% shooting from the field and 72.7% from deep, scoring at 1.72 points per possession.
As if the first 15 minutes weren’t bad enough, it became apparent over the final five of the first half that Miami was just toying with the Seminoles. Prized transfer Norchad Omier scored six straight, all on dunks or tip-ins, and then Wong backed up to drill the Hurricanes ninth three of the half. With 1:52 left, Miami doubled up FSU 52-26. From there the two teams each added a basket and the visitors from down south went into the locker room up 54-28.
FSU actually shot 12-18 from inside the arc, but the ‘Noles were a dreadful 1-11 from deep, with the typically sharpshooting Green shooting just 0-6. Meanwhile, Miami looked like they were having a casual shootaround, finishing the half scoring 1.58 points per possession and shooting 60% from the field and 64% from three.
As lopsided as the score was, the rebounding margin was even worse. Miami grabbed 7 offensive rebounds on just 13 missed shots, leaving FSU with just 6 defensive rebounds. Said another way, Miami rebounded more than half their misses.
Down on FSU’s side, Miami sported a 100% defensive rebounding rate, as FSU had zero offensive rebounds on 16 missed shots.
Coming out of halftime down 26, Florida State came out aggressively getting into the lane. This was rewarded with six free throws in the first five minutes, triple the amount the ‘Noles took in the entire first half, and FSU scored 11 points before the first media timeout. Unfortunately, so did Miami. The ‘Canes opened the half making 4 of their first 5 shots and at the 15:03 mark, despite all the aggressiveness by FSU, the UM lead was still 26.
The next four minutes was a little better, as Miami missed a few free throws and in a rare show of deterrence FSU’s defense forced a shot clock violation. A three-ball by Caleb Mills followed by a nice post move from Baba Miller made it 69-47 Miami with 11:36 remaining.
From there, the only thing left to be decided was the final margin. Florida State made a brief run here and there, even looking to cut the lead into the teens on several occasions. But shots kept rimming out for Green Jr. and the Seminoles, while the Hurricanes kept making it rain.
Slowly but surely the lead grew bigger and with a few minutes remaining Hamilton took out his starters and waived the white flag.
Box Score & Takeaways:
—Jim Larranaga, with ample support from Miami’s NIL “collective,” hit the portal hard last offseason and the money was well spent. Pack, a transfer from Kansas State who received nearly $1M to come to Coral Gables, is a dynamite scorer, forming a fantastic pairing with Wong in the backcourt. At the same time, Omier gives Miami a grown man underneath who is also athletic enough to defend smaller wings. Pack and Omier combined for 30 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals.
—It just wasn’t Green’s night. The junior sniper was brilliant against Notre Dame and Pitt, but his shots were just inches off all game long in this one. He finished just 2-12 from the floor, including 1-10 from deep, and FSU is going to have a hard time winning games when its leading scorer has just 5 points. Hopefully Green follows up this performance the way he followed up his 0-5 from three performance against Nebraska, when he made 4-7 in a close loss to Purdue.
—Baba Miller is starting to look more comfortable. His minutes were played exclusively with a double digit deficit, so the pressure wasn’t high. But his conditioning looked improved over 17 minutes and he made his presence felt at both ends of the court.
—If FSU’s offense goes how Green goes, its rebounding very well might go how Cleveland goes. And tonight Cleveland was largely mitigated by Miami. Some of that was just Miami not offering up many defensive rebounding opportunities, but they also did a nice job finding him when the ball was in the air. His 5 rebounds were his fewest since grabbing just 2 against Stanford in late November. Cleveland undoubtedly grabbed the attention of opposing coaches over the last 4 weeks and now he’ll find out what life is liked as a marked man. Can the sophomore respond and kick his game up to an even higher level? FSU will need it if they want to win Saturday.
The Seminoles look to get back into the win column against the 24th ranked Clemson Tigers, who currently sit in first place in the ACC standings. Nonetheless, Clemson represents a slightly better matchup for FSU than the Hurricanes, especially if starting point guard Chase Hunter continues to sit with a foot injury.