After a controlling the pace of much of the game, the Florida State Seminoles pulled away from the Miami Hurricanes, while holding off a late run as the Canes fell to 0-3 in ACC play.
Miami came into the contest looking to slow the game down with their thin roster, and did so for the first half and much of the second as well. But FSU mounted a run which accelerated the game and their lead. With just seven rotational players, UM’s margin of error remains next to none.
Miami played good situational basketball Wednesday night. They won the free throw battle, getting to the line by aggressively driving to the basket rather than settling for jump shots. The Canes went 18-22 from the line, juxtaposed with a 8-13 showing from the Seminoles. The charity stripe kept the game close through halftime, with 13 points out of 29 coming from the foul line for the Hurricanes in the first half.
The free throw advantage failed to counterbalance the disadvantage from the field, with FSU holding the Canes to just 37 percent shooting.
Miami did well defending the shot as well. The Seminoles shot a modest 42 percent on the evening, and the Canes also limited the 7’4’’ FSU forward Christ Koumadje to just 1 point on 0-6 shooting. Koumadje also dealt with occasional foul trouble.
UM dictated the tempo for much of the game by mixing up defenses, often running a 3-2 zone. The defense worked by slowing the game down and limiting foul trouble, but left open shots for shooters and the defense susceptible to attacking post play. Despite a limited performance, Koumadje’s size was a mismatch for the zone from the start. Blocking out—a necessity in zone—proved a bit of an issue for Miami, giving up 11 offensive rebounds and 10 second chance points to a big FSU roster.
Chris Lykes led Miami in scoring with 17 points, including a big 6-6 on free throws. The Maryland native did see three shot attempts blocked in the first half, bringing down his FG percentage to 42 percent.
Anthony Lawrence also scored well, with 14 points.
Ebuka Izundu worked his way through foul trouble to score 13 along with nine rebounds. The sole center was whistled for four fouls and played just 27 minutes.
FSU had just two players in double-figures, with David Nichols and PJ Savoy scoring 13 and 10 points, reactively. Both of these players came off the bench, accounting for 23 of their team’s 41 bench points that Miami simply cannot match. The Seminoles also benefited from a scorer-by-committee strategy that featured six additional players with at least six points.
Despite the perceived mismatches, the Hurricanes went into halftime down just four, and lead by as many as three with 14:09 to play.
A 21-5 extended run by the home team, lasting nearly seven minutes of game time, put UM down 13 with seven minutes remaining in the game.
A pair of baskets by Lykes, Izundu and Lawrence over the next three minutes—along with occasional FSU points—chipped the deficit down to 10 with three-and-a-half left, setting up a late 8-0 run spearheaded by five straight Zach Johnson points, who has an otherwise quiet night with six points. Johnson had prior experience with the ‘Noles, scoring 17 points in a near upset of FSU in the 2017 NCAA Tournament while at Florida Gulf Coast.
Miami failed to get a stop on the next defensive possession, allowing an MJ Walker layup and thereafter being forced to play the foul game until the final buzzer.
The Canes will return home after the loss, and must regroup in hopes of getting their first ACC win on Saturday at home against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.