No. 13 Seminoles survive Hurricanes, 68-62
Leonard Hamilton likes to joke that any close win is a "typical ACC blowout."
Wednesday night was no different.
His Florida State Seminoles overcame a second-half deficit to build a 13-point lead with seven minutes left, then held on for dear life down the stretch for a 68-62 victory at the Civic Center.
Trent Forrest was credited with a critical basket on an offensive rebound with 26 seconds left and M.J. Walker hit two big free throws moments later as the Seminoles thwarted the Hurricanes' late comeback attempt to improve to 13-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.
Florida State plays again on Saturday at home against No. 1 Duke.
"I thought our kids fought very hard," Hamilton said. "We did some nice things. ... Hard-fought game. It was one of those games you look back at the end of the season and glad you won it."
David Nichols led the Seminoles with 13 points off the bench. P.J. Savoy added 10 points off the bench as well and Mfiondu Kabengle added nine points and seven rebounds as FSU's bench outscored Miami's 41-10.
Which helped offset another poor shooting effort from the Seminoles, who were just 6 of 26 from 3-point range.
"When our shots are falling we're clicking as a team better," said redshirt freshman forward RaiQuan Gray, who had six points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. "But when they're not, we can play defense, get steals and do all the small things."
It was the second straight game in which the Seminoles struggled offensively, but they were able to overcome the poor shooting (42.2 percent) and the slow tempo Miami employed to pick up their 13th victory of the season.
"I kind of wasn't worried," Terance Mann said of the Seminoles' game-clinching score with 26 seconds remaining. "I knew we were going to get something out of it. And if not, we'd have to go down and get a stop. Which I wasn't too worried about either. So that was pretty much it. Just poise and calm.
"We've been in that situation, y'all have seen it, a thousand times before."
Miami, one of the best shooting teams in the conference, was just 4 of 18 from 3-point range and shot just 37 percent from the floor overall.
"I thought our guys did a pretty good job defensively," Hamilton said. "This is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. So we knew we had to do a good job of limiting them ... as a result we gave up once again some drives to the basket."
Miami was 13 of 15 from the free-throw line in the first half and finished the game 18 of 22. The Hurricanes also turned a 13-point deficit into a two-point margin with repeated drives to the basket late in the game.
Said Mann: "In the ACC that's just what happens. When they're in the bonus and they're driving, you can't put your hands in the air and keep them in front when they go to the line. So you can't really be as aggressive as you want on defense. And the other team knows that so they just go downhill and get layups at the rim.
"It was a tough situation to be in but we just battled out of it."
He added: "I think for 35 minutes we did a great job on the defensive end."
Stay connected with Warchant.com for more coverage.