The University of Miami men’s basketball team appeared ripe for an emotional letdown Sunday night against Florida State after the Hurricanes’ historic rout of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday.
But, if anything, UM looked even better against the Seminoles, leading from start to finish in a 71-47 victory before a second consecutive sellout crowd of 7,972 at the BankUnited Center.
The win gave the 25th-ranked Hurricanes (15-3, 6-0 ACC) a 1 1/2-game lead atop the league standings and marked the first time UM has won its first six conferences games, whether in the ACC or previously in the Big East.
“They showed the maturity of a team that’s on a mission,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, who added later that the Hurricanes are “a top team in America.”
UM certainly has appeared that way in its last two games, demolishing Duke 90-63 before delivering another lopsided decision against the youthful Seminoles (11-8, 3-3).
With dominating wins over Duke and FSU, the Hurricanes are certain to move up in The Associated Press’ Top 25 rankings when they are revealed Monday.
Where will UM be ranked?
Most teams usually only move up a few spots, but few schools have had a week like the Hurricanes, whose rout of Duke marked the program’s first win against a No. 1-ranked opponent. UM has not been higher than No. 17 in the polls since the 2001-02 season. The Hurricanes are unranked in the USA Today coaches poll, although that is sure to change today.
UM coach Jim Larranaga has said he puts little emphasis on the Top 25, preferring to concentrate on his team’s RPI. Told that Jay Williams, the former Duke star who served as ESPNU’s color analyst for Sunday’s game, said the Hurricanes were a Final Four team, Larranaga responded, “If we’re still playing in April, then he’s right.”
Trey McKinney Jones led three Miami players in double figures with 15 points, but Sunday’s victory was about defense. UM, ranked eighth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (36.9), stifled FSU’s shooters for most of the game. The Seminoles opened by making 7 of 13 shots but finished by connecting on just 9 of their last 39 attempts and ended the game shooting 30.8 percent from the field.
Miami has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent this season. Michael Snaer, FSU’s leading scorer who was averaging 14.5 points, was held to 2-of-5 shooting and four points.
The Seminoles moved to within two points, 28-26, of Miami with just more than three minutes to go in the first half. UM responded by going on a 9-2 run before intermission and then began the second half on a 14-5 streak.
If there is to be an emotional letdown for the streaking Hurricanes, winners of seven straight, it wasn’t going to come Sunday.
“We’re a veteran team,” McKinney Jones said. “We’re not going to let ourselves do that.”
The Hurricanes will play their next two games on the road, starting in Blacksburg, Va., on Wednesday night against Virginia Tech. That’s followed by a trip Saturday to Raleigh, N.C., where UM will face North Carolina State in a rare CBS national television appearance for the ‘Canes.
Miami has played well on the road this, winning each of its three ACC games away from the BankUnited Center. Each of those victories has come without Reggie Johnson in uniform. Johnson returned to action against Duke after missing a month with a broken left thumb and played 22 minutes Sunday, contributing five points and six rebounds.
FSU, which had won 12 of 14 games against Miami coming into Sunday’s game, fell to 0-3 this season against ranked teams.
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