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February 12, 2013
Florida State enters Wednesday spitting the aftertaste of a 25-point loss delivered by a bottom-half ACC team.
Miami enters Wednesday as the hottest team in the country, ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and currently undefeated in ACC play (10-0).
Together, it's not an ideal situation for FSU to be in a must-win spot.
But that's reality for the Seminoles at 13-10 overall and 5-5 in ACC play. For the flicker of NCAA Tournament hopes to remain, FSU will have to take down a Miami team that's hitting on all cylinders.
"They're dominating," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said plainly. "They're playing as well as anyone I've seen."
Already handed a 71-47 loss by the Hurricanes last month, Hamilton and the FSU players raved about a Miami team that's versatile with threats from the post and perimeter headlined by point guard Shane Larkin, arguably the odds-on favorite to win ACC Player of the Year right now. FSU guard Ian Miller called Larkin "the head of the snake."
"There's no doubt that in my opinion, they have to have one of the top 2-3 point guards in the country," Hamilton said. "Larkin, he's the real deal. And then when you load it with three point shooters at three other spots and a couple post guys who make you pay, they're a potent team."
In the first meeting, Miami had 19 assists on 27 made baskets while Florida State was held to 30.8 percent shooting from the field. Larkin scored 8 points and dished a game-high six assists. He has also fueled dominating wins over Duke and North Carolina in recent weeks.
Florida State, losers of five of its past eight games with the last four losses by at least 19 points, will need a dramatic turnaround to stay in the ACC race. On top of just needing wins, the Seminoles resume needs a signature win - FSU has zero wins against the top 40 in the RPI.
So while the teams are trending in opposite directions, Wednesday still presents opportunity. If history matters, FSU hasn't lost to Miami in Tallahassee since 2006 and Miller expects an inspired effort from his team.
"If we've got pride, we've got to play hard (Wednesday)," he said.
Miller and the rest of the crew also understand that Wednesday represents a last hope at their postseason goal.
"We've lost a lot (this year)," FSU center Kiel Turpin said. "We need a game that's going to get some attention."
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