It was certainly closer than the first meeting between Florida State and Miami. A lot closer.
Unfortunately close was not enough as the Seminoles came up just short and the Hurricanes held on for the 74-68 victory.
It was simply too much Shane Larkin, who scored 22 points for Miami in the win.
After Okaro White's put back at the 10:10 mark tied the score at fifty-one, Larkin, who Leonard Hamilton called the best point guard in the country, scored 9 points over the next five minutes to give Miami its largest lead at 68-56.
Although FSU closed the gap to 69-66 on a Devon Booker three point play with fifty-one seconds to play, the margin was just too much to overcome, helped along by a couple of lengthy three point shots that were supposed to be drives to the basket according to Hamilton.
The inability to convert baskets forced the 'Noles to foul and there was just too little time for another Michael Snaer-type miracle.
After the game, Hamilton pointed to Larkin and Reggie Johnson's (14 points) play as the difference makers for Miami.
But he also pointed to Florida State's turnovers, 17 of them to be exact that Miami converted into 21 points.
It was the usual mistakes that have often plagued the Seminoles, getting up in the air with no place to go with the ball, dribbling the ball off a leg, lazy cross court passes, etc.
But it was more so the timing of the turnovers that bothered Hamilton.
"Too many times we turned the ball over at the most inopportune time. We had an opportunity to cut the lead to three and turned the ball over two times instead.”
"They (Miami) made better decisions,” Hamilton added.
What Hamilton did not catch immediately after the game was that Miami committed 16 miscues, giving up 21 points as well to the Seminoles.
The difference was Miami's 64% shooting compared to FSU's 46%. Once again the 'Noles had a difficult time in the first half, connecting on just 36%.
But somehow FSU managed to stay close to the ‘Canes, trailing just 38-30 at intermission.
It started out well enough for the 'Noles who led 13-2 at the 14:57 mark. But a scoring drought over the next 6:30 proved costly as Miami took a 22-18 lead behind a 20-5 run.
Of significant note and possibly a reason for the quick start for the Seminoles was a major starting lineup change. Booker started in place of Montay Brandon who never saw the floor during the game. Aaron Thomas replaced Terry Whisnant, who finally got in the game in the second half with just over twelve minutes remaining, and the surprise start of Michael Ojo at center.
Ojo's start seemed to spark
who contributed immediately with two baskets and a rebound once he saw the floor. Turpin finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
Still, interior defense was an issue as Miami scored 36 points in the paint relentlessly attacking down the lane. Part of that was FSU's game plan of taking away the three, according to Hamilton.
The Hurricanes were 3-8 from behind the arc after connecting on 15 threes against North Carolina last Saturday.
On the change of starters Hamilton said, "We wanted a different look, not because anyone beat out someone else."
Another positive from the change Hamilton felt was the rebounding, where FSU was a plus four over Miami including 10 offensive boards.
Booker was the only other Seminole in double figures with 12 points. Snaer recorded just 9 points and a disappointing five turnovers.
It was a not a win, but it was progress for the 13-11, 5-6 Seminoles in showing better effort against the 3rd ranked Hurricanes.
The 'Noles will continue its short home stand by hosting Boston College on Saturday. Tip off is at noon.