TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Miami coach Jim Larranaga switched up his starting lineup Monday and played five seniors for the first time all season. With just two Atlantic Coast Conference wins, the Hurricanes needed something to change.
Miami exploded offensively during the 77-73 victory against rival Florida State, scoring the most points since an 84-69 win against Texas Southern in the fourth game of the year. The win was just the third in conference play and the second on the road against the Seminoles in eight attempts.
"From my point of view that's the best we've played at both ends of the court," Larranaga said. "I thought our defense was strong in the first half. Not until Ian Miller went on a roll right at the end of the half did I get concerned.
"I like those seniors and the way they responded to the challenge that was put to them. This is your last go round. You have eight games left. How do you want to remember it? Tonight they showed that they really want to go out playing better basketball and winning some of these close games."
Donnavan Kirk scored a team-high 16 points for Miami (12-12, 3-8 ACC) as Rion Brown finished with 14 and Tonye Jekiri chipped in 15. Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejiori made their first starts of the season with the lineup change.
The victory was just the Hurricanes' second in their last eight games.
Miller scored 13 for Florida State (14-10, 5-7) in his first game back from an ankle injury. Devon Bookert scored 17 and Aaron Thomas had 16 in the loss. The Seminoles have lost 6 of 8.
The early moments of the first half looked like a meeting between teams with seven combined ACC wins. Neither could put the ball in the basket as Miami started 3 for 13 from the field while Florida State was 2 for 10. The Seminoles didn't match the physicality inside, but the 3-point shot got both teams rolling.
Miami's five first-half 3-pointers helped extend its lead to 12 points before Miller caught fire. Miller buried a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers and added a pull-up jumper with 37 seconds left to keep the Seminoles within single digits at halftime.
The Hurricanes extended its lead to a game-high 13 after a 5-0 start to the second half that featured several Florida State blunders. Michael Ojo was called for a technical foul, Montay Brandon missed two free throws and Thomas fouled a 3-point shooter. The Seminoles answered with a 16-6 run that saved themselves from being run out the building.
"One of the things we do by slowing the game down is controlling the tempo," said Miami guard Garrius Adams, who scored 12 points. "We try to share the ball as much as we can, have the shot clock low so we can get a good shot at the end of the shot clock and we did a good job of that."
Florida State needed stops down the stretch, but the two teams traded baskets for too long before the Seminoles were forced to foul each possession in an attempt to cut the lead. The Hurricanes shot 47.9 percent from the field after entering the game shooting 38.8 percent in ACC play. They were 24 for 33 from the free-throw line while Florida State was 10 for 14.
Miami played zone for most of the game and Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said that caused the Seminoles to play a bit hesitant offensively.
"This is part of the learning process, how do you handle adversity?" Hamilton said. "How do you find a way to reach deep down inside when things are not going the way you want? That's when you learn and you grow.
"I thought the effort was good, but I do think we had some execution failures on the defensive end."
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