The Miami Hurricanes came into Saturday’s matchup, hosting in-state rival Florida State with recent injuries, setbacks and frustrations that were especially apparent against when sharing the floor with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best.
So against the No. 9 Seminoles, many expected the Canes to be overmatched on their home Watsco Center court. Instead, they went toe-to-toe with the physically imposing visitors, with 40 minutes deciding nothing other than allowing overtime to break a 69-69 stalemate between the teams.
But Miami (10-7, 2-5 ACC) will remember little else except the fact that they couldn't hold onto a lead late in regulation and subsequently fell 83-79 in the extra period.
“I thought we did everything it took to win the game, except win,” said coach Jim Larrañaga. “[We] did a nice job, had some balance in the scoring...we’ve been pretty darn good at the end of close games, today we weren't able to close.
“We had some turnovers that led to easy baskets, so we didn't get a chance to defend them. And those turnovers allowed them to cut the lead pretty quickly. We still had the lead with just over a minute to go...a couple of opportunities they ended up forcing a turnover instead of us forcing them to foul.”
Miami’s 24 turnovers was a season-high.
“We turned the ball over and they scored off those turnovers,” said junior guard Chris Lykes. “Basketball is a game of runs. They made a run at the right time and we didn't execute.”
“I think it just came down to the offensive end, we were playing a little too fast-paced towards the end,” said senior guard DJ Vasiljevic.
For FSU, sophomore guard Devin Vassell logged a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. But none of his moments Saturday were bigger than a 3-pointer to put his team up five in the final minute of OT. UM answered but never recovered.
The veteran engine of Lykes, Vasiljevic and junior Kameron McGusty continued to churn points, with the trio combining for nearly three-quarters of the Hurricane offense. Lykes’ 24 points were a game high, while Vasiljevic added 19 on 4-6 3-point shooting. McGusty had 15 points and Sam Waardenburg’s 11 rebounds equaled a game-high.
Miami fell in spite of winning most of the game’s key statistical battles. They outshot the Seminoles 47-42% from the field and 46-36% from behind the arc, and surprisingly out-rebounded their foes from Tallahassee, 41-36.
“I thought [Larrañaga] had a tremendous game plan,” said ‘Noles coach Leonard Hamilton. “We had a hard time finding any driving lanes, execution of their defense was almost perfect. We kept changing schemes and found it very difficult to get good looks.”
The loss is UM’s fourth in succession at the hands of the ‘Noles as well as their sixth defeat in the teams’ last seven meetings.
Neither team fired on all cylinders in the first half, amounting to a statistical tie in many facets, including both teams shooting 4-11 from 3-point range and 50% at the free throw line.
In spite of the combined lack of offense, the Canes led for a majority of the opening period and went into the locker room down 31-30 after a Trent Forrest basket put FSU ahead right as the first half buzzer sounded, matching their only leads of the half.
The closeness of the first half carried over to the second, with neither team leading by more than six until Miami extended their lead to seven at the six-minute mark in the contest, before FSU went on a 13-4 run in the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime.
The Seminoles would take the lead in OT for the first time after 11:50 in regulation and would hold on for a dramatic road win. It was Florida State’s ninth straight win in overtime.
The Canes now pack their bags for a pair of critical matchups on Tobacco Road, facing Duke at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium on ESPN. UM will remain in the Research Triangle for the week before taking on North Carolina on Jan. 25.