Tallahassee, FL- Florida State basketball (9-5, 3-2 ACC) topped the Miami Hurricanes (13-4, 5-1 ACC) 65-64 on Tuesday night in a back-and-forth affair at the Tucker Center. RayQuan Evans won the game for the Seminoles on two free throws with less than a second remaining. Matthew Cleveland led the Seminoles with 15 points (11 second half points) on 5-7 shooting. Anthony Polite stuffed the box score with 12 points (4-6 FG) and eight boards.
Both Miami and FSU were slowed down by turnovers, but FSU’s performance at the free throw line and on the glass made the difference. The Seminoles out-rebounded Miami by 12 rebounds and had nine more second-chance points. Florida State was also 13-16 on free throws, while the Canes were 7-10.
With the win, FSU has won eight straight against the Hurricanes. The ‘Noles have also won six straight home games in the series. Florida State is 27-1 in their last 28 ACC home games.
The Seminoles began the game with back-to-back turnovers. UM opened the scoring on a dunk by Sam Waardenburg. FSU’s initial score came on a layup by Anthony Polite. Charlie Moore and John Butler traded triples to tie the game at five. A long offensive board led to three second-chance points for the Canes on Isaiah Wong’s first three. Miami led 8-5 at the first media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Jalen Warley intercepted an inbounds pass, leading to a Polite dunk.
FSU went scoreless over their next four possessions, including a trio of missed three-pointers by Caleb Mills. Kameron McGusty scored four straight points, before Moore hit his second three to put Miami up eight in a hurry. Leonard Hamilton called his first timeout with the Seminoles on a scoring drought of nearly three minutes.
Cam’Ron Fletcher came off the bench to bring some life into the Tucker Center. The Kentucky transfer cut hard to the rim and converted an and-one to snap the Seminoles’ scoring drought. After Warley’s second steal, Naheem McLeod cleaned up the glass on a missed layup for second chance points. A tough finish in the paint by Matthew Cleveland cut the deficit to one.
On the Seminoles following possession, Mills found Malik Osborne in the paint off the pick-and-roll late in the shot clock for a dunk to take the Seminoles’ first lead. Moments later, RayQuan Evans poked the ball loose on the defensive end and sprinted the court for a thunderous slam as the Tuck erupted. A quick 11-0 run put the Seminoles up three as Jim Larrañaga called his first timeout. The Seminoles led 20-18 at the under-8 media TO.
The Seminoles’ offense went cold again, while Miami started to find some offensive rhythm out of the timeout. Miami retook the lead out of the timeout on an and-one by Waardenburg. Layups by Moore and Wong opened up a five point cushion. A tough finish by Polite snapped an FSU scoring drought of three-plus minutes, but McGusty responded with the Hurricanes’ fourth straight make. The Canes led 27-24 at the final timeout of the half.
FSU’s ninth turnover of the half led to a wide open dunk for Wong. Cleveland exploded past a Miami defender to return the favor on the following possession. The Seminoles turned the ball over for the tenth time of the half just before the break, but Polite rushed back to the defensive end for an emphatic block. Evans banked in a floater on the Seminoles’ final possession of the half to cut the deficit to one.
Miami took a 29-28 lead into the locker rooms. Both teams kept each other in the game with sloppy offensive play. The Hurricanes had 15 points off FSU’s 10 turnovers. The ‘Noles had 10 points off eight Miami turnovers. Florida State shot 41.9% from the field, but were just 1-10 from beyond the arc against the nation’s 314th ranked three-point defense. Miami shot 44.4% and were 3-8 from three. Polite was the Seminoles’ first half MVP with six points and five rebounds.
Jordan Miller got the Hurricanes off to a strong start in the second half as he hit a corner three for his first basket. Butler got a roll off the front end of the rim for his second triple to answer Miller’s score. Mills found Wyatt Wilkes in the corner on a no-look pass for a three to put the lead back in FSU’s hands. That lead lasted just a few seconds, as Miller hit another three on the following possession. A step-back jumper by Moore gave the Canes a three-point lead at the first timeout of the half.
Miller’s red-hot shooting continued out of the timeout. The George Mason transfer hit his third three, all in the span of six minutes, to extend the Miami lead to four. After buckets by Mills and McLeod, the Seminoles trailed 44-42 at the U12 TO.
The Seminoles entered the bonus with 10:12 remaining and down four points. Cleveland, who has struggled from the line as a freshman, hit both legs of a one-and-one to cut the deficit in half. Polite dished a perfect pass to Cleveland on a cut, who went up-and-under for an and-one to trim the lead to one after four straight points from McGusty. The and-one gave the gutsy freshman seven straight points as FSU trailed 50-49 with 8:42 remaining.
Out of a Miami timeout, Evans splashed home a deep three to give the Seminoles the lead. The timely triple was Evans’ first made three-pointer since December 15th against Lipscomb. 40 seconds later, FSU turned the ball over in transition and the lead swung back to Miami on a triple by Wong. Florida State trailed 53-52 with 6:52 remaining after the roller coaster stretch of basketball.
The back-and-forth affair continued as Cleveland stayed hot. The freshman hit his second three-pointer in as many games to swing the lead back in FSU’s favor. A UM dunk tied the game at 55. Osborne went 2-2 at the line after being fouled on a rebound to put the ‘Noles back up two. The eighth lead change came on Moore’s third triple. With a chance to tie the game, Warley went 0-2 at the charity stripe. The Seminoles trailed 59-57 at the final media timeout.
Moore returned the favor at the free throw line, missing the front end of Miami’s first one-and-one. The Seminoles had another chance to tie the game with Cleveland at the charity stripe, but the freshman only knocked down one of two. The free throw contest continued with McGusty, who knocked down a pair to put the Canes up three with two minutes remaining.
Polite boxed out a handful of Miami defenders to grab an offensive board, before being fouled. The veteran knocked down both free throws to cut the deficit to one. After a defensive stop, the ‘Noles retook the lead on a wide open three by Osborne, his first of the game. Miami called a timeout with 24.7 seconds remaining and down two.
Miami drove to the basket and missed a pair of layups. But Miller was able to pick up a second offensive board and kick out to Moore for a wide open triple. The triple handed Miami a one-point lead with seven seconds remaining.
After Leonard Hamilton called a timeout, the Seminoles inbounded the ball to Evans. Evans sprinted down the court and drove hard towards the basket and was fouled by Moore, his fifth foul. The veteran stood at the free throw line with .8 seconds remaining and down one.
Evans knocked down both, with ease. Eight straight.
According to DraftKings, the Seminoles were 6.5 point favorites over the Hurricanes.
Polite: 12 pts (4-6 FG), 8 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk
Cleveland: 15 pts (5-7), 4 reb
Evans: 11 pts (4-8 FG), 4 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
Up next: Florida State will travel to Syracuse, New York this weekend to face the Orange for the second time this season. The ‘Noles will take on Cuse on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. In the season’s first matchup, FSU fell at home to the Orange, 63-60. The Seminoles, badly in need of a road win or two, will look for revenge on Saturday at 3:00 PM. The game will be aired on ESPN2.