The fans inside the Donald L. Tucker Center took to their feet.
Miami was holding onto a one-point lead as Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon dribbled out the clock.
Bacon looked left and right, but he had nowhere to go.
The Hurricane defense stood tall, and FSU was never able to get an open look. Devon Bookert and Malik Beasley’s desperation heaves didn’t come close, and Miami came out of Tallahassee with a 67-65 win.
“That’s a great road win,” said Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, who collected his fourth 20-win season in five years at UM with the win against Florida State. “It’s hard to win on the road in any conference, but especially in the” Atlantic Coast Conference.
Miami led for the entire second half, but the Seminoles made quite a few runs to tie the score. Each time, the Hurricanes responded.
Davon Reed knocked down a three to push the Canes’ lead back to seven with 9:40 left. Then Angel Rodriguez stifled another Seminole run with back-to-back threes after Florida State tied it at 52 with just over seven minutes to play.
It was Rodriguez who orchestrated the offense down the stretch, leading to open looks for Sheldon McClellan and Ja’Quan Newton.
Although they didn’t always translate into field goals, Rodriguez’s penetrating dribble drives opened up the Noles defense and led to four trips to the free throw line in the final 2:30.
“That’s what Angel and Ja’Quan do,” McClellan said. “When those two get into the lane, whether they shoot it or pass it, it creates passing lanes for me and Davon [Reed]. They live in the paint and that leads to easy buckets.”
McClellan led all scorers with 20 points and Reed added 14. Rodriguez finished with 11 points and six assists for UM (20-4, 9-3).
Devon Bookert had 14 points for the Seminoles (16-9, 6-7) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 12; they were the only Seminoles in double figures.
Freshman Malik Beasley came into the game having scored in double figures in each of his first 24 games, but the Miami defense limited him to just six points.
In the final moments, the Hurricanes looked confident and composed; the Seminoles panicky and indecisive. FSU scrambled to get a shot off in the waning seconds, but UM, with its back against the wall, knew where to go to create offense.
“I have to bring leadership on the court whether it’s making the shot or just making the right play,” Rodriguez said. “I know I can make the game-winning plays.”
Florida State took its only lead of the game early in the first half when Benji Bell hit back-to-back threes and Terrance Mann went coast-to-coast for an and-1 to take a 15-14 lead. The series woke up the crowd and turned the momentum in Florida State’s favor.
But the Hurricanes responded well. They went on a 15-4 run and took a double-digit lead thanks to a couple jumpers and a three from Reed. Miami went into the half up 37-26.
Road wins in the ACC are hard to come by. A season ago, it was FSU which got the better of Miami down the stretch in Tallahassee. A season later, the growth and maturity of the Hurricanes are quite visible.
“We’ve all been together for a year and going to back to the NIT last year,” McClellan said. “That NIT run helped with our poise and chemistry down the stretch. Coach always says stay together whether they make a run or not. That’s what we did tonight is stay together throughout their runs.”