GAME NOTES: Sunshine State rivals meet up at the Tucker Center on Wednesday, as the Florida State Seminoles get a shot at derailing the third-ranked Miami- Florida Hurricanes in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes are the cream of the crop in the ACC and as result of a current 11-game win streak, find themselves with their best ranking in school history. Miami is a flawless 10-0 in conference play and most recently, destroyed North Carolina 87-61 last weekend.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles were supposed to take the next step and vie for a conference crown this year, but the team has failed to deliver on its potential, struggling to a 13-10 overall record. Inconsistent play has continued in league play with FSU splitting its 10 games thus far. Last weekend, the Seminoles hit rock-bottom, getting routed by a Wake Forest team that is below .500 on the year, 71-46.
Florida State holds a 40-30 advantage in the series with Miami and holds a 27-5 edge in games played in Tallahassee. However, Miami is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a rather easy 71-47 victory in Coral Gables on Jan. 27.
Known for its defensive prowess, Miami flexed its offensive muscles in the rout of North Carolina. The Hurricanes drained a school-record 15 3-pointers, led by Shane Larkin's five treys. The sophomore guard led the team with 18 points, just missing a double-double with nine assists. Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott poured in 17 points apiece, while Rion Brown added 11 points off the bench.
It is the play at the defensive end that has defined Miami's season, with the team limiting foes to a mere 59.0 ppg, on well under 40 percent shooting (.378). Offensively, Miami is netting just over 70 points per game, fueled by a trio of double-digit scorers. Scott leads the team at 14.0 ppg. Kadji has been impressive in the frontcourt with 13.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Larkin nets 13.0 ppg and is the team's top distributor (4.3 apg). Reggie Johnson (9.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Trey McKinney Jones (9.5 ppg) provide additional options.
Florida State's inconsistencies this season are reflected in a scoring margin of zero. The team is scoring and giving up 67.2 ppg. Still, if the Seminoles are within striking distance as the clock runs down, Michael Snaer may be the best closer in the conference, having already drained a few buzzer-beaters to win games of late. Snaer is shooting just 40 percent from the floor, but still leads the team with 13.9 ppg. Okaro White is the only other double-digit scorer at this time, coming in at 12.0 ppg.
Snaer's flare for the dramatic never came into play against the Demon Deacons, as FSU struggled from all over the floor, shooting .326 overall and just 14- of-23 from the free-throw line. The team was also dominated on the glass, getting outrebounded 45-25, while being outscored in the paint, 32-16. Snaer and White were the only significant offensive contributors, posting 13 points apiece in the loss.
The Seminoles' woes this season aren't likely to change with the red-hot Hurricanes coming to town. Miami is simply the better team at both ends and will once again win one going away.