This game followed an eerily similar script to the Duke game.
Everything was working for the ‘Canes in the first half. Ja'Quan Newton and Bruce Brown were penetrating the Florida State defense off the dribble and either getting layups or dishing off to an open Kamari Murphy or Dewan Huell for easy looks. And switching to a 2-3 zone got the Seminoles offense out of sync, while allowing Miami’s shallow roster to exert less energy on defense.
The ‘Canes extended their lead to 34-27 nearing halftime.
And that’s when it started to all go wrong.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes hit a three-pointer, capping off a four point possession with under a minute left, the last four points of the first half. That started a 20-2 run for the ‘Noles (including a 16-2 start to the second half).
During this run Brown picked up his third foul for the ‘Canes and Jonathan Isaac came out of nowhere for a rim-rattling jam (should’ve been called a goaltending) with 13:12 left to give FSU their first double-digit lead at 47-36.
Brown came back in and stopped the bleeding with a layup, then Terance Mann picked up his third foul and maybe the tide was turning in the Watsco Center.
Florida State's defense was too much for Miami, forcing the 'Canes into committing 14 turnovers, and the ‘Noles shot a lights out second half to blow out Miami in the end.
In the second half Miami looked slow and tired.
Florida State began pressuring in the second half, and while it didn’t directly lead to turnovers and points, it made the Hurricanes offense speed up their half-court offense with less time on the shot-clock.
Florida State could keep this pressure up and tire out the ‘Canes because of their depth. Utilizing 12 players throughout the game (11 of which scored), compared to Miami’s 8, allowed FSU to continue to press and push Miami into a battle of stamina.
A battle FSU would dominate.
Brown’s second half drives led to contested looks at the rim and he wasn’t looking to dish it off at the end to a big man, like he had in the first 20 minutes. Miami simply pressed too hard when they went down.
Davon Reed dunked on a fast-break cutting the lead to 51-44 with 9:35 left. But the ‘Canes would inch no closer and Florida State would own the late stages of this game.
Miami needs to find a way to stay even-keeled throughout the game. They can’t get too high or too low or we will continue to see games where the ‘Canes look entirely different one half from the other.
Florida State outscored Miami in the second half 44-23, almost exactly the same second half Miami experienced against Duke, in which the Blue Devils won the second half 45-22.
Miami plays at N.C. State on Saturday.
The Hurricanes have nine conference games left, four against ranked teams, and end the season with a rematch at FSU on March 4th.