It was a tale of two halves for the No.23 University of Miami men’s basketball team Sunday afternoon, as it dropped a nail-biter to Florida State, 55-54, inside the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Hurricanes (14-7, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) led by as many as 16 points against the Seminoles (12-10, 4-5) in the first half — shooting 50 percent from the floor — on their way to a 36-25 halftime lead. But FSU’s defense stifled UM in the second half, holding the Hurricanes to just three points in the final 8 minutes 56 seconds of the game.
“Florida State defended us very well in the second half,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said. “You’ve gotta give them credit. Their defense forced us to take some tough shots that didn’t go down. Their big guys made some big plays at the end of that second half.”
After scoring 16 points in the paint during the opening half, the Hurricanes had only six in the second half on just 31.6 percent shooting.
“It makes it really difficult on Tonye [Jekri] to score with all of those big bodies,” Larrañaga said. “If he gets by one of them, there was always another big guy lurking around, making it difficult to get anything going. We don’t really have a post game, and I’m sure that was FSU’s game plan heading into the game.”
UM has lived and died from the three-point line all season long, and that wasn’t any different against FSU.
Coming into Sunday’s game, 35.7 percent of Miami’s points had come from beyond the arc.
After totaling 18 points from long distance in the first half against the Seminoles — 50 percent of Miami’s point total — the Hurricanes couldn’t catch the same rhythm down the stretch, going just 2 for 9 during the back end of the game.
But with 28.2 seconds left in the game, the Hurricanes still had a chance to win.
Out of a Miami timeout, the Hurricanes fumbled an extended possession, leading to a desperation shot by junior guard Sheldon McClellan that refused to fall, giving the Seminoles their first win against a ranked team since 2013.
While Miami’s offense was a strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Hurricanes fared well on defense.
Not only did they force FSU into 16 turnovers, but they also held Seminole standouts Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Devon Bookert and Phil Cofer to five points combined.
“You’d think defending their guards as well as we did would lead to a win,” Larrañaga added.
“But that’s just basketball. They played great defense down the stretch, and that was the difference in the game.”
McClellan led the Hurricanes with 13 points, two rebounds and one steal. Davon Reed finished with 11 points of his own, adding six rebounds and one steal.
UM will now prepare for Tuesday’s home game against No.10 Louisville (18-3, 6-2 ACC).