Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has already proven he can make adjustments to spark the Hurricanes. Earlier this season he made the well documented change from man-to-man to zone to fortify UM's D.
Well Coach L shuffled the deck again tonight, inserting Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejori into the starting line-up, replacing Manu Lecomte and Tonye Jekiri, thus giving the 'Canes a larger group that featured 5 senior starters.
The change payed huge dividends tonight as Miami defeated FSU 77-73 in Tallahassee.
FSU, who came in squarely on the NCAA bubble, got Ian Miller back after a three game absence with an injured ankle. His scoring would help keep them in the game but it would not be enough.
While the larger unit Miami started helped compound the size advantage the Seminoles normally enjoy, Miami still found their early points on the perimeter as three balls by Rion Brown and Donnavan Kirk sparked an early advantage.
Lecomte came off the bench and sparked a mini run with a pull up jumper and a nice dish to Brown for a 3, and Kirk hit an impossible turn around J, to extend to what seemed like an insurmountable 8 point lead.
However Okaro White and Ian Miller started to make some shots, and the pace of the game finally picked up.
Two more buckets by the red hot Kirk kept UM ahead though.
Miami even went a little full court press to speed things up themselves. When Tonye Jekiri got in the scoring act with an and one it extended to a 28-16 Hurricanes lead.
Miller hit a couple of bombs to slice the lead, but at the buzzer Garrius Adams hit one of his own and Miami went to the locker room up 34-26.
Kirk led the way in the first 20 minutes with 11 points on 4-4 shooting. Miller's hot shooting led the Noles with 11 of his own.
The second half was even more physical then the first. Michael Ojo nearly decapitated Akpejori with an inadvertent elbow a minute in.
Both teams came out jawing and clanking, as the 'Canes held a double digit lead early in the half.
With the lead a precarious 7, Rion Brown chased down Aaron Thomas for a spectacular block.
But Devon Bookert hit an incredibly long three though shortly after to cut the deficit to 43-37.
Akpejori got some revenge with a very physical bucket a minute later to keep the lead at 6. Boris Bojanovsky answered with a conventional 3 point play to cut it to a tenuous 3 point lead, but Davon Reed answered and calmly nailed a jumper to give UM some breathing room.
Reed would later set up Adams for a huge three to keep the lead at 6, and extend to 8 moments later with a pretty pull up off the dribble.
UM also got a solid contribution over the final 20 minutes from Jekiri who scored from in tight several times as they scraped and clawed to hold onto the lead, including converting with persistence with just under 3 minutes to go to put Miami up 62-54.
FSU kept making shots to keep it interesting, but Miami made just enough free throws to seal the deal and finally win an ACC contest and snap a 6 game conference losing streak.
The Canes are still a long way away from the conference's elite, but once again proved that they can be a handful any given night out.
Certainly no team will be looking forward to playing them in the final month of the regular season, nor the ACC Tournament.
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Erik Swoope, F||0-3||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||2||1||0||0||2||0|
|Donnavan Kirk, F||6-7||2-2||2-2||0||1||1||0||0||1||1||3||16|
|Raphael Akpejiori, F||2-2||0-0||0-3||2||1||3||0||0||3||1||5||4|
|Rion Brown, G||3-11||2-8||6-8||0||5||5||1||0||1||0||1||14|
|Garrius Adams, G||3-11||2-2||4-5||3||2||5||3||0||0||2||1||12|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||5-6||0-0||5-7||2||4||6||0||1||2||2||3||15|
|James Kelly, F||1-1||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Davon Reed, G||2-4||0-1||3-4||1||1||2||2||0||1||0||0||7|
|Manu Lecomte, G||1-3||0-0||4-4||0||0||0||3||1||0||1||1||6|
|Florida State Seminoles|
|Michael Ojo, C||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||3||0|
|Okaro White, F||5-9||0-1||4-5||3||4||7||2||0||0||2||3||14|
|Devon Bookert, G||7-14||2-7||1-2||2||3||5||5||0||0||0||1||17|
|Montay Brandon, G||0-4||0-2||2-4||0||2||2||1||1||0||1||5||2|
|Aaron Thomas, G||6-12||2-4||2-2||1||1||2||1||2||1||2||3||16|
|Boris Bojanovsky, C||4-5||0-0||1-1||4||2||6||1||0||2||3||3||9|
|Jarquez Smith, F||1-2||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||2|
|Ian Miller, G||5-10||3-6||0-0||0||3||3||0||0||0||2||4||13|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None