Having lost by 27 points to Georgia Tech at home on Saturday, Miami (7-13, 3-12 Atlantic Coast Conference) battled with its in-state rival but was unable to snap a losing streak of six games to Florida State, an ACC Championship contender.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong scored a game-high 29 points, though the Canes were unable to earn their first victory in four games, falling to the Seminoles 88-71 at the Watsco Center for the second time this season.
“I thought our guys gave it everything they had, I thought our effort from start to finish was good, we’re just worn out,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We played against a Florida State team that I think is as talented as any team I’ve seen in the country, and I think they’ve got a legitimate chance not only to win the ACC regular season, the [ACC] tournament, and the NCAA Tournament.”
Florida State guard Anthony Polite, who totaled 12 points on the evening, helped sparked an early 25-4 run with two consecutive 3-point field goals at just under the 12-minute mark of the first half. A contested layup off the backboard from guard Scottie Barnes widened the margin to 19 points, as Miami never came within 11. Florida State outrebounded UM 45-36.
“They’re big, they’re athletic, they pass the ball and share it very well,” Larrañaga said. They offensive rebound; I don’t see any weaknesses.”
Wong, the team’s leading scorer averaging 16.6 points per game, initiated an 8-0 run of his own with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first 20 minutes of action.
“The past set of games [I’ve] just making the best opportunity, the best plays, and I feel like throughout these games a lot of pressure’s been on me,” Wong said. “I feel like handling the pressure and the way the team helps me handle that pressure going through these games is the thing I’m really doing good at.”
The Hurricanes headed to the locker room trailing by 21 points, with the Seminoles having shot 57 percent from the floor. Florida State also scored 31 bench points, and 57 on the night, while Miami had none by halftime.
Miami started off the second frame on a 5-0 run that included a three from sophomore forward Anthony Walker, though was not able to maintain momentum as both teams traded baskets through the first six-and-a-half minutes.
“I think our effort was pretty good throughout the game, obviously we had lapses on defense where it was almost non-existent, but we can only get better,” Walker said.
The Hurricanes, however, held the Seminoles to 3-of-13 from 3-point territory in the second half. Miami meanwhile converted on seven triples as Walker and Wong combined for five.
“My confidence has just grown, and my teammates are finding me a lot more,” Walker said. “I’m learning how to play harder, especially from last season. So, I’m just trying to finish this year out strong, and it’s just going to keep going up from here.”
Miami hits the road again to challenge the Clemson Tigers, a team that escaped South Florida with a one-point win in early January, on Saturday. Clemson (14-5, 8-5 ACC) has won four-straight games, and remains led by forward Aamir Sims’ 13.3 points per game.
The Canes and Tigers will tip off from Littlejohn Coliseum at 2 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.