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February 13, 2013

FSU's inspired effort falls short as Miami wins 74-68

Florida State dominated the first five minutes, offering a glimmer of its best basketball this year.

It battled back from double-digit deficits in both halves, too.

All of that still wasn't enough to rekindle some upset magic in this place and hand No. 3 Miami its first ACC loss. FSU's mettle couldn't topple the red-hot, veteran Hurricane bunch that escaped the Donald L. Tucker Center with a 74-68 win on Wednesday night.

Through the wild ride of runs, Florida State's (13-11, 5-6 ACC) final chance came as they trailed 69-66 with 23 seconds left. Ian Miller had his potential game-tying three-pointer rim out from the top of the key.

In the second half, the Hurricanes (20-3, 11-0 ACC) opened up a 12-point lead with 13:05 to go that evaporated by the 10-minute mark. It took another 12-point advantage with 4:23 to play that was cut down to three before Miller's game-tying attempt.

"That run we had in the second half, that brought a lot of energy and confidence to everybody," FSU center Kiel Turpin said. "And Ian just kept hitting shots. That's pretty much all it was, we were playing on confidence right there."

Problem was, so was Miami point guard Shane Larkin, who continued to bolster his ACC Player of the Year campaign with an impressive 22-point performance on 9 of 15 shooting from the field. He scored 14 of his 22 in the second half and 11 points in the final 7:29.

"The second half, we didn't seem to have an answer for Larkin," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He made some great plays."

Miami would shoot 63.8 percent for the game and total 36 points in the paint, paced inside by big man Reggie Johnson.

"I really thought Reggie was the difference," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

However, the Hurricanes were forced into 17 turnovers, a figure that Hamilton said his team couldn't capitalize on because of his own team's self-inflicted wounds. FSU turned it over 16 times.

Looking for a spark from his team that has fallen quickly out of NCAA Tournament conversation, Hamilton made some drastic changes to his starting lineup, inserting three freshman - and Devon Bookert and Michael Ojo who picked up their first career starts and Aaron Thomas who made his second. FSU was off and running, taking a 13-2 lead just 5:03 in the game.

But Miami followed with a 25-5 run of its own over the next 10 minutes to take a 27-18 edge. Miami would shoot 73.9 percent in the first half (17 of 23) and bring a 38-30 lead into halftime.

A pair of players that had accrued regular playing time saw limited action on Wednesday. Sophomore Terry Whisnant, who wasn't inserted until the 13-minute mark in the second half, helped spark one of FSU's two second-half rallies and finished with eight points. Freshman Montay Brandon, who was averaging 21.4 minutes per game entering Wednesday, did not play.

Hamilton called both decisions "judgment calls."

"We just wanted to give some other guys an opportunity to play," Hamilton said. "I think we just wanted to change things around a little bit."

Okaro White led FSU scorers with 15 points while Bookert added 12.

In the end, the lineup shift may have helped and confidence helped keep things close. But it wasn't enough.

"I thought we showed a lot of fight," Hamilton said.

Florida State faces off against Boston College at Noon ET on Saturday.

Notable: Freshman Boris Bojanovsky left the game in the first half with a laceration over his eye. Hamilton did not have any update on whether that was the extent of his injury or on his status for Saturday's



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