Florida State basketball takes down Miami to win their sixth straight game of the season and ninth straight against the Hurricanes. The Seminoles defeated the No. 1 team in the ACC on the road. Their 61-60 victory puts them on top of the conference for the first time this season.
The Seminoles were welcomed with a hostile crowd in Miami, Florida to play the Hurricanes in their second head-to-head game of the season. FSU won the first matchup this season by a score of 65-64. They now take the second game by another “ ACC blowout “ according to head coach Leonard Hamilton.
FSU started the game against a relatively aggressive defense but RayQuan Evans knocked down the first points of the game with a three ball at the 18 minute mark. The Noles forced two early fouls, giving Isiah Wong and Sam Waardenburg an uncomfortable start. At the 16 minute mark the Seminoles were up 8-4, checking in Jalen Warely and Wyatt Wilkes.
The Watsco Center featured it’s loudest student section in the last couple years, but the pressure might’ve got to them quite early. At the first media timeout Charlie Moore was shooting 1-3 from the field while the Seminoles were a perfect 3-3. Out of the timeout the Noles pressured the Hurricanes with a three man press on the ball and two men in the backcourt. Freshman Jalen Warely came into the game with incredible defense on the perimeter and scored two quick baskets in the painted area. Jim Larranaga eventually called his first timeout at the 13 minute mark and the Noles were up 14-6.
Miami found themselves in early foul trouble. Jordan Miller had two, Isiah Wong, Sam Waardenburg, and Anthony Walker each had one. The Hurricanes went scoreless for nearly four minutes after finally getting the ball through the basket with a free throw from senior Kameron McGusty. At the 10 minute mark the Canes were 0-5 from three point land with five costly turnovers. FSU was on a 10-1 run in the middle of the first half, leading 18-7 with nine minutes remaining. The freshman trio of Mathew Cleveland, Jalen Warely, and John Butler took over when all three were on the court, turning defense into offense with some suffocating on-ball pressure.
With eight minutes left in the first half the Canes hadn’t scored a field goal since the 15:47 mark. Waardenburg knocked down a vital three to push the Hurricanes into double digits with seven minutes remaining. Miami started the game trying to attack the paint but the Noles height advantage and physicality was too much for them to handle early on. Kentucky transfer Cam’ Ron Fletcher checked into the ball game with five minutes left while the Noles were up 26-11. With under five minutes remaining in the first half, the final media timeout was called and the Noles were shooting 13-25 from the field. The Hurricanes were held to just four field goals made, scoring most of their baskets from the charity stripe.
Florida State had seven fouls with five minutes remaining in the first half, putting UM in the bonus for the rest of the half. Moore hit his second field right off the timeout but Polite followed it with a corner three to push the lead to 31-15. The Noles were on a 25-9 run with two minutes remaining. Wong also scored his second field under two minutes, giving him his 1,000th point in his UM career. Polite’s poise and calm attitude was exactly what the Noles needed as he scored 13 first half points, with a perfect 1-1 from three and 5-5 from the field.
With less than a minute to play in the first half the Hurricanes were at the line yet again, knocking down two much needed buckets. The Seminoles kept their smothering defense late in the half, not letting the Hurricanes even force up a contested jumper. Redshirt senior Wyatt Wilkes finished the half with a buzzer beater three, topping a dominant performance from the Noles with his famous house call celebration.
The Seminoles entered halftime with a 43-19 lead. The Hurricanes had zero fast break points, one point scored from their bench and two second chance points. FSU led the half in classic Leonard Hamilton fashion, forcing seven turnovers while earning 15 points from their bench.
FSU’s defense needs to stay on track and force difficult shot attempts as they play an explosive offense. They enter the half with a 43-19 lead and Polite hit the first basket to extend the lead. Miami started with a 2-1-2 press to start the half, forcing three quick turnovers by the Noles. UM knocked down their first three ball with under 18 minutes left and Moore followed that up with an and-one to light up the Canes crowd.
The Noles were leading in almost every major category in the beginning of the second half but Hamilton decided to pull the plug and call the first timeout so Moore and Wong wouldn’t get the hot hand. At that point FSU was leading 49-29. Miami kept their trap defense out of the timeout, picking up the main ball handler in the perimeter with two defenders if the Noles decide to give handoffs.
UM continued to struggle from beyond the arc, shooting 3-18 before a Wong and-one three cuts the lead to 49-33. Florida State had just two turnovers in the first half but picked up five early giveaways in the second. The crowd got into with 13 minutes remaining as the Canes picked up four fouls, putting Miller on the bench till the end of the half. Malik Osborne also checked out at the 12:58 mark with four fouls.
The Noles were scoreless for a mere four minutes before Evans found the basket, putting his total to seven points on 3-3 shooting. At the under 12 minute timeout the Seminoles were leading 51-34, as the the Canes led the half 15-8 at the moment. Miami was still 3-19 from three, shooting 29% from the field. Florida State started to get sloppy in the middle of the half with lackadaisical effort. While Hamilton started to search for a spark he plugged in Warley and Harrison Prieto.
Miami cut the lead to 52-37 giving every ounce of effort into the comeback. The Hurricanes kept inching away at the deficit as the Noles went dry on the offensive end. As Wong and Waardenburg got comfortable they were hitting every necessary jab to make it a game. With eight remaining in the second half the Seminoles already had 10 turnovers. Polite was the leading scorer with 15 points and Mills was right behind him an efficient 10 points but they couldn’t find much success from anyone else.
Coach Hamilton called a timeout with 6:45 remaining. Miami cut the deficit from 24 to 10 and the crowd were on their feet, featuring head football coach Mario Cristobal with a mic to light up the crowd. UM went on a 12-0 run and Florida State called their final timeout as the score was 55-49 with 5:39 left in the second. Mills hit two big time free throws to keep the Noles lead and push their margin.
The Seminoles scored their first field goal at the four minute mark after not scoring a single bucket outside the free throw line for five minutes. Their offensive rebounding led to three straight opportunities and Mills was the headman yet again. Miami’s defense was just too much for the Noles to handle and their offense caught fire in the worst time for FSU. Wong had yet another and-one three ball to cut the lead to 61-58 with 1:20 remaining.
Polite missed a key free throw at the 1:11 mark and the Canes pushed an Evans turnover to a dunk in the fast break. With one second left in the shot clock the Seminoles threw up a heave and missed a much needed opportunity. Coach Larranaga decided to call his final timeout with 8.1 remaining to draw up a play and give the Hurricanes a chance to win the ball game. After a missed jumper from Wong the game was over and the Seminoles were finally able to take a breathe.
Miami concluded the game shooting 37% from the field and 28% from three. Mills had 16 points on 7-9 shooting and Polite paired that with 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Noles now take possession of first place in the ACC with a 13-5 record, winning eight of their last nine games. Despite a 5-4 start to the season Hamilton reached into his bag of tricks and stunned the ACC, attaining the top seed after immense adversity this season.
Next game: FSU travels to Atlanta, Georgia to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on January 26th at 9:00 ET. The game will be featured on the ACC Network. Georgia Tech is currently 7-10 on the season and 1-6 in the conference.