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Miami (Fla.) avoids letdown, beats Florida State

The SportsXchange

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami (Fla.), still basking in the afterglow of its dismantling of No. 1 Duke, avoided a letdown in its ensuing game against Florida State on Sunday.

Four nights after their 27-point win over the Blue Devils, the No. 25 Hurricanes led from start to finish to post a 71-47 victory over their archrivals from Tallahassee.

"I feel like we're a veteran team," Miami senior Trey McKinney Jones said. "We've got a lot of guys who are experienced. We're not going to let ourselves do that [have a letdown]."

Miami (15-3, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) extended its winning streak to seven games, which includes a win over La Salle in addition to the league wins.

The Hurricanes are off to their best start ever in league play, and they remain on top of the ACC standings with a two-game advantage in the loss column over four teams.

"It means we have 12 games left on our conference schedule and every game is significantly important," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said when asked to comment on the significance of its conference lead. "You don't look to the past, and you don't look to the future. You stay in the present."

Miami's previous best start in conference play was 5-0 back in 1997-98. That season, the Hurricanes were members of the Big East and coached by Leonard Hamilton, who now coaches the Seminoles.

"I thought we played a very good basketball team that played with maturity of a team that's on a mission," Hamilton said. "They exploited our youthfulness."

Jones (15 points) and Durand Scott (11 points) led Miami in scoring, but it was Miami's play at the defensive end that keyed the victory.

"I thought the first half, especially the first 18 minutes of the first half, was really an outstanding defensive battle," Larranaga said. "I thought they guarded us very well, a lot of pressure on us. We tried to do the same thing to them."

The Hurricanes held the Seminoles (11-8, 3-3) to just 30.8 percent shooting from the field. Florida State was the fifth conference team that failed to reach the 60-point mark against Miami and the third that failed to score 50.

Ian Miller, who came off the bench to score 12 points, was the only Seminole in double figures. Florida State's top two scorers entering the game, Okaro White (14.5 average) and Michael Snaer (12.9), combined for only 10 points.

The key point in the game came after the Seminoles had cut a nine-point deficit down to two points at 28-26 on Terry Whisnant's 3-pointer with 3:19 left in the first half.

After getting a defensive stop, the Seminoles had a chance to tie or take the lead on their next possession, but Robert Gilchrist missed a baseline jumper.

The Hurricanes then closed out the half on a 9-2 run, with McKinney Jones accounting for the final five points on a 3-pointer and a breakaway layup.

"I thought that was a very good sign for us," Larranaga said.

The Hurricanes, who began the game on a 6-0 run, started the second half just as quickly as they had the first, getting their cushion into double digits in the first two minutes of the period and boosting the gap to 23 points midway through the period.

NOTES: Reggie Johnson's reverse layup with 14:30 left in the first half was the first field goal for Miami's senior center since Dec. 18. It was his only field goal of the game, but he also had three free throws for five points. ... Johnson broke his thumb in practice on Dec. 22 and missed the next eight games before returning Wednesday against Duke. In the upset of the Blue Devils, Johnson missed twice from the field but hit two free throws. ... Florida State's 30.9 shooting percentage on 16-of-52 shooting was a season low for the Seminoles, who came into the game shooting 44.7 percent from the field. ... With one steal against Florida State, Miami sophomore guard Shane Larkin has had at least one steal in 17 consecutive games, missing only in the season-opening win over Stetson. ... Miami finished the game with 19 assists on 27 field goals. Florida State had six on 16 baskets.
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