No. 13 Florida State, Miami look for first ACC win
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton knew his team's Atlantic Coast Conference opener against unbeaten No. 4 Virginia last Saturday would be tough.
He didn't know it would end up being a nightmare.
The No. 13 Seminoles (12-2, 0-1 ACC) were embarrassed by the Cavaliers, who built a 42-23 halftime lead and didn't relent until the final minutes, when they subbed in half their bench. Florida State closed the game on a 16-0 run to make the final score a respectable 65-52.
"They took advantage of every mistake we made, every shortcoming we had on the court," said Hamilton, whose team had won seven in a row. "I've watched a lot of Virginia game films over the years and this team seems to be so well connected. They are all in sync and we had very little answer for them."
Florida State is headed home Wednesday for a chance to rebound against in-state rival Miami (8-6, 0-2). The Seminoles are 7-0 at the Donald L. Tucker Center this season and have won three of their past four games against Miami, including in overtime last year.
The Hurricanes are scuffling a bit, having lost their first two ACC games to N.C. State and Louisville despite holding a 15-point lead in each game.
"We just ran out of gas," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said after the loss to the Cardinals.
"I thought we played a terrific first 12, 13 minutes and had a nice lead. But then we got in foul trouble, and guys aren't (defending) the way they did when they had one foul, or two fouls. It became a real issue."
The Hurricanes' early struggles can be attributed to the loss of star center Dewan Hernandez, who was suspended by the NCAA earlier in the season for reportedly being linked to a runner for a sports agent who was found guilty of fraud in a recent federal trial into college basketball corruption.
Hernandez appealed the decision, but the NCAA denied it last week and ruled Hernandez ineligible for the remainder of the season.
Florida State, meanwhile, has issues with guard Terance Mann, who is the Seminoles' leading scorer and rebounder. Mann, who averages a team-high 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, didn't start for the first time all year against Virginia and barely played -- scoring no points in the blowout loss.
"Terance didn't practice at all this week, at all. He bruised his heel and it was a soft tissue, it was extremely painful," Hamilton said after the game.
"He was on crutches until a day and a half ago and we had no idea if he was going to be able to play at all, so when he warmed up today, it was the only time I knew we were going to have him. So, he was not in sync. ...
"He has been our leader. He's a guy who we play through and play off of and he didn't have one of his better games, but had he been at his best (against Virginia), I am not sure that it would have made that much of a difference."
Helping pick up the slack for Mann in the meantime is forward Mfiondu Kabengele, who is averaging 11.4 points a game, followed by guard Trent Forrest, who is averaging 10 points and has a team-high 49 assists. The Seminoles' depth has been their strength this year with five other players averaging between seven and nine points.
Miami has five players averaging double figures, including guard Chris Lykes, who paces the Hurricanes at 17.5 points a game. Guard Zach Johnson (14.3 ppg), guard DJ Vasiljevic (12.5 ppg), guard Anthony Lawrence (12.5 ppg) and center Ebuka Izundu (11.7 ppg) are having solid years on offense for Miami.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 8, 2019