Florida State (11-6, 5-1) traveled down to Coral Gables riding a four-game winning streak and the Seminoles were happy to make it five with an 84-75 victory over the Miami Hurricanes (12-5, 3-3). Cam Corhen was magnificent with 16 points on 7-7 shooting, while also playing great defense, but it really was a good team effort. FSU had four guys in double figures, plus a fifth with 9, and seven guys had at least two rebounds. The ‘Noles never trailed in the game.
The game took on a frenetic pace early, which is exactly what FSU wanted. Both teams were getting great looks, Miami largely in transition off long rebounds and turnovers, while the Seminoles scored in transition and from the half-court thanks to strong ball and player movement. At the under-16 media timeout the scoreboard already read 14-9 in favor of the Noles. The difference being that FSU had an extra three thanks to Darin Green, Jr. draining his first two (nothing but net on both) and an extra possession due to a Jamir Watkins offensive rebound put-back.
Coming out of the first timeout, Florida State did not let off the gas. As Rogner and I talked about on the pod, Miami has a serious depth issue. You could tell Coach Hamilton wanted to test the Canes’ depth, as he brought in waves of subs to relentlessly push pace and attack the rim. Primo Spears is a guy who is born to push pace, and he found Cam Corhen on a nice feed to make it 19-15 FSU with over 13 minutes remaining. Spears was then on the receiving end of a fast-break assist, before dropping off another assist on a Corhen layup, giving the ‘Noles a 25-18 lead.
Two Norchad Omier free throws briefly cut the deficit to five, but from there FSU went on a run. It was junior guard Jalen Warley orchestrating much of it, as he dropped dimes for teammates. Defensively, Corhen started exerting his influence, straight ripping the ball from Hurricanes on two different instances, one of them directly under FSU’s hoop which led to an easy bucket plus the harm. When they weren’t turning the ball over, Miami was still able to manufacture points, mostly around the rim, but it wasn’t as easy for the ‘Canes as the opening 6-7 minutes.
With about 7 minutes remaining in the half, Omier picked up his second foul when he clearly held Jaylan Gainey. FSU took advantage, immediately attacking his backup. Warley got a nice layup to fall through contact, and then he dropped it off for Gainey for a rim-rocking jam. A couple possessions later, Watkins blew by Matthew Cleveland off the bounce, and with no one there to protect the tin, it was an easy layup for a 40-28 FSU lead with 4:55 remaining in the opening half.
The final few minutes of the half was a mixed bag, however. With Omier out, FSU had a real chance to stretch the lead even further. But poor shot selection by Josh Nickelberry and Spears wasted a couple of possessions. And while the ‘Noles did get a Spears free throw followed by Corhen cleaning up the mess on an offensive rebound put-back dunk to stretch the lead to 43-28, Miami got it all the way back into single digits with about a minute remaining thanks in large part to the ‘Noles getting sloppy with their passing and on the defensive glass.
Spears sank a mid-range jumper off the bounce with 11 seconds left to get the lead back to 10, but it still had to feel like a bit of a lost opportunity for Hamilton and Co, especially since Miami, one of the country’s elite three-point shooting teams, was just 2-14 from the perimeter, which simply isn’t sustainable.
Baba Miller opened the second stanza doing exactly what FSU needed to do, attacking the basket and getting a layup to fall. Miami got a bucket soon after, but FSU kept attacking and getting rewarded. De’Ante Green made consecutive layups, one off Warley’s 6th assist of the game and one off yet another offensive rebound. Watkins got a layup of his own, and suddenly FSU had its biggest lead of the game at 53-37. But, once again, the Seminoles were not able to drive the dagger into their opponent’s heart.
You knew the lid would come off the basket for Miami’s perimeter shooting, and when it did, it was bombs away. The Hurricanes got threes from backcourt stars Wooga Poplar, Nijel Pack (x2), and Kyshawn George, cutting the lead from 54-40 at the 16:17 mark to 59-57 at the 11:22 mark. FSU, for its part, contributed to this Miami run by suddenly stopping what was working—attacking the basket.
After Miami cut it to two points, Hamilton called timeout to regroup. It seemed to work, as immediately coming out of the huddle, Watkins attacked the basket for the hoop and harm. He made the free throw and stopped the bleeding, at least temporarily. Miami cut it right back to two with yet another three, but it seemed like the Seminoles got the message. Watkins attacked again, and while he missed his driving layup attempt, Miller was there for the offensive rebound and then did one better by hitting a three. Spears then extended the lead back out to 7 points on a pull-up jumper, and following two more Miami free throws, Warley immediately pushed it to 7 again when he got in the paint for a layup.
It looked like the deeper FSU team might’ve wrestled away momentum with the Hurricanes clearly winded, but the ‘Canes regained their footing, once again...with some assistance from multiple long stoppages in play due to home-clock malfunctions, allowing UM’s short rotation to catch their breath. Pack and Omier, in particular, took advantage, with Pack hitting a step-back three and a pull-up jumper, while Omier got a layup off an offensive rebound and an assisted dunk, the latter of which brought Miami back to within two at 73-71.
Once again, the Seminoles ended the run without allowing Miami to tie or take the lead, this time utilizing free throws with a boost from their seemingly patented missed free throw followed by an offensive rebound. With 4 minutes left, FSU extended the lead out to 77-71 when Gainey split a pair. Then, after Omier hit two from the stripe to cut the lead to four, Miller made an outstanding defensive play to cut off the baseline drive and then steal the forced pass. This led to Watkins getting into the lane for a floater, and the lead was back to six.
Pack swished yet another jumper, but FSU countered by slicing through Miami’s attempted press and Watkins threw down a hammer on top of Omier’s head. From there it was all over but the score. FSU sank some free throws and walked away with the victory.
FSU came in with a clear game plan to wear down Miami and they executed it to perfection. Florida State had more players score a point (9) than Miami had play in the game (8). Watkins and Miller were the Seminoles’ leaders in minutes at 33 and 30, respectively. Miami had three guys play 36+ minutes and two more over 30.
Florida State comes back home for a critical matchup against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson began the year 9-0, including a neutral court win over the TCU Horned Frogs, and a true road win over a good Alabama Crimson Tide squad. But the Tigers have lost 4 of their last 5 and travel to Tallahassee desperately in need of a win. The game tips at 4:00pm on Saturday.