In their Watsco Center home, the Miami Hurricanes (9-10, 1-6 ACC) were outplayed in every facet by their archrival Florida State Seminoles (15-5, 3-4 ACC).
FSU never trailed, as they completed a wire-to-wire win from tip off to the final buzzer, which read a 78-66 final score.
UM had little chance all Sunday evening, as it took FSU just four minutes to deliver the first punch in the form of a quick 12-3 run.
And for the first time since February 15th, 2014, nearly five years, Miami’s overall record has fallen below the .500 mark.
If one player helped set the tone early for the ‘Noles, it was Christ Koumadje. The 7’4’’ post player out of N’Djamena, Chad attacked UM in the paint for eight points in the first five minutes. Miami’s forwards seemingly had no answer. Koumadje would finish with nine points for the Seminoles despite being ejected with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game.
“We thought we were going to have great size this year with Dewan [Hernandez], Ebuka [Izundu], Deng [Gak] and Rodney [Miller],” said head coach Jim Larrañaga. With Hernandez out due to the eligibility investigation, Gak out for the year with an injury and the redshirt of Miller, size is an issue for Larrañaga’s team. “Now with just Ebuka [Izundu] inside, it’s just not enough.”
FSU held the statistical advantage in most major categories by the time the clock hit zero. The ‘Noles outrebounded the Canes 34-26 and outshot the Canes 56 percent to 42 percent.
FSU surprisingly even won the three-point battle, a small shock because the Seminoles entered the contest ranked 10thin the ACC in the statistic to UM’s 5th. MJ Walker led the ‘Noles in this department, going 6-7 on three-pointers for a season-high 22 total points, igniting loud tomahawk chops into the visiting fans.
Other contributors for the visiting team included Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele.
Mann had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Kabengele provided an additional 17 points.
“They [FSU] were packing the paint,” said UM guard Anthony Lawrence. “When they pack the paint, it’s hard to play defense without fouling. It’s not really playing defense, you’re just trying to make them miss.” With two players—Izundu and Waardenburg—in foul trouble, the Noles’ paint-packing tactic was lethal to the Hurricane defense.
For Miami, Zach Johnson had a team-high 20 points. Anthony Lawrence scored 11 points, while DJ Vasiljevic had 12, despite going just 1-8 on three-point shots.
Anthony Mack was held scoreless, while Chris Lykes, Miami’s leading scorer on the season, had just one point, a career low.
“I can’t explain it,” said Larrañaga on Lykes’ apparent slump, with the guard having scored just eight points in the last game against Syracuse. “He missed some wide open looks early tonight, and I think he got discouraged from that.”
“When you’re young like that, and you have a bad game or two, it can affect you,” said FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton on Lykes. “I think that’s what he’s going through, it’s what a lot of our guys have been going through.
Sam Waardenburg was another one of the few bright spots for the Hurricanes, scoring 13 points on 4-4 shooting, including 2-2 from three-point range.
In the first half after FSU went in the initial run, the Hurricanes twice got the game within a single possession, including once off a thunderous dunk by Waardenburg with 5:27 until the intermission. The home crowd began to gain energy and intensity as momentum appeared to be shifting.
But any Cane momentum was quickly killed by a 15-0 extended run from the Seminoles in the last four-and-a-half minutes of the first half, only bookended by a single Lykes free throw, his only point of the game. The run put FSU up 45-28 at halftime.
“We gave up a couple of baskets, our head went down, and we took a couple of quick shots,” said Larrañaga. “So the lead went from six, to 10, to fourteen, in a minute or a minute-and-a-half. That was probably too much for us to overcome.”
UM wouldn’t get closer than within 12 points in the second half until after the three-minute mark in the game, in which the final result had been long determined. Falling behind by as much as 19 with just over five minutes left in the game, Miami fans began to hit the exit as much of the remaining crowd was dressed in garnet and gold.
With the loss, the Hurricanes remain in the ACC’s basement, with only Notre Dame and Wake Forrest keeping UM company at the bottom of the standings.
Miami will have to quickly get over this result, as they are next in action at home against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday night. The Hokies, ranked no. 10 in the country and coming off a big win over Syracuse, will be revenge minded after two losses to the Hurricanes last season.