Bruce Brown, the University of Miami standout freshman guard, got a phone call earlier this week from his friend Terance Mann, who had a small request: Could Brown take it easy on the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday afternoon?
Brown laughed and politely declined.
Mann is a sophomore guard for 15th-ranked FSU and knows Brown well from their days playing high school and AAU ball in New England. Mann and his teammates are hoping Brown doesn’t do to them what he did to North Carolina and Duke. Brown torched the then-No. 9 Tar Heels for 30 points and last week dropped 25 on the then-10th-ranked Blue Devils.
“He told me they need this win to get two byes [in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament] and asked me to help them and I’m like, ‘What do I look like? We need this win, too,’ ’’ Brown said, smiling. “They’ll come out hard and try to throw the first punch, but we’ll be ready for it.”
The last time UM played FSU, on Feb. 1 in Coral Gables, Brown was the Hurricanes’ leading scorer with 17 points, but the Seminoles came out on top 75-57 after shooting 60 percent in the second half and going 11 for 11 from the free-throw line.
State bragging rights — and ACC tournament seedings — are on the line when the rivals meet on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Florida State is 17-0 at the Tucker Center this season and 19-0 dating to last season. Thirteen of those wins have come by double digits, and the Seminoles’ average margin of victory in ACC home games this season has been 19.9 points. A sellout crowd of more than 10,000 is expected, just FSU’s third sellout this season.
“Everything counts a little more now, the stakes are a little higher,” UM senior guard Davon Reed said. “You can feel the intensity of everything raised a little. We want to finish the regular season strong and then survive and advance [in the postseason].”
Both teams are coming off losses. The Hurricanes entered the Top 25 this week at No. 25 but lost Monday night at Virginia Tech. Florida State will try to rebound from a 75-70 loss at Duke.
“Despite our loss the other night, we’re rolling and we’ve caught our stride,” Reed said. “I think we’ll continue to grow and make good steps forward.”
The Canes face a tall challenge against the Noles. Florida State’s roster includes 7-4 Christ Koumadje, 6-10 freshman Jonathan Isaac and fifth-year graduate student Michael Ojo, who looks more like a football lineman at 7-1 and 304 pounds.
“It will be a very tremendous challenge. They’re a very deep team,” Reed said. “They score at an even higher rate when they play at home. It’s a rivalry game, so all that stuff goes out the window between both teams. I’m looking forward to going in and competing. It’s a great last challenge before stepping into March Madness
Saturday: No. 25 UM men at No. 15 Florida State
When/where: 4 p.m.; Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee.
TV/radio: Channel 33; WQAM 560, WFTL 850.
Records: UM 20-9 (10-7 ACC); FSU 23-7 (11-6).
Scouting report: The Seminoles are 17-0 at home this season. … FSU won 75-57 when the teams played on Feb. 1 at the Watsco Center. FSU shot 60 percent in the second half, was 11 for 11 from the free-throw line and held UM scoreless for long stretches after halftime. Freshman Bruce Brown led the Canes with 17 points. Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac had 15 points each for the Noles.