Sat, 27 Feb 2021

No. 16 Florida State on roll heading into matchup with Miami

Field Level Media
26 Jan 2021, 18:19 GMT+10

Florida State have recaptured the form that led to an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship a year ago.

The Seminoles (9-2, 5-1 ACC) have rolled to four consecutive conference victories. They will look to keep their momentum going when they host the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday night in Tallahassee, Fla.

No. 16 Florida State soared back into the AP Top 25 after falling out during its recent two-week hiatus caused by COVID-19. The Seminoles are coming off an 80-61 win over then-No. 20 Clemson on Saturday -- a game in which Florida State led by as many as 38 points.

The Seminoles have won by an average of 17.8 points during their recent winning streak and defeated three of their opponents -- North Carolina State, Louisville and Clemson -- by an average 21.3 points.

Florida State has won 21 consecutive home games against ACC teams and has moved up to second place in the conference.

"We feel like we're the best team in the country, and we want to go out each night and prove it," Seminoles forward RaiQuan Gray said. "That's kind of our mentality. Just marking everyone off the list that's next up. That's our mentality going forward."

Florida State's offense is averaging 86.3 points over its past four games thanks to its hottest shooting stretch of the season. The Seminoles have hit 54.3 percent from the field and 49.4 percent from 3-point range in that span. They have also been effective attacking the basket both in half-court sets and in transition and capitalizing from the foul line (87.1 percent).

"We had the COVID break, and we had time to regroup mentally and physically and get ourselves right," Gray said. "We're better than what we were playing before."

The Hurricanes (6-8, 2-7) have been the complete opposite from a shooting standpoint, primarily from beyond the arc. Miami, which has gone 3-8 since a 3-0 start, is shooting 25.8 percent from 3-point range and struggled again Sunday, going 3-for-22 from long range during a 73-59 loss to Notre Dame.

Miami also hasn't defended the 3-point shot well, which doesn't bode well against a red-hot Seminoles team.

The Fighting Irish made 10 of 18 from 3-point range against Miami, which allowed them to shoot 53.8 percent from the field overall.

"We've learned this throughout the season, we just can't guard 3-point shooters very well," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "And Notre Dame shoots a lot of threes, and I wish we could figure out how to get this team to defend the 3-point shot better. And on the other end, we shoot 14 percent from 3. We don't make any threes and the combination is lethal."

Isaiah Wong has been the constant for the Hurricanes, averaging 17.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals over 35.4 minutes per game.

However, Miami has dealt with injuries to key players all season, particularly preseason All-ACC point guard Chris Lykes (ankle), who has not played since Dec. 4. Anthony Walker missed the game against Notre Dame because of a foot injury.

"We never expected Chris to be out this long," Larranaga said. "I thought he would be ready for Louisville, and he wasn't ready for Syracuse or Notre Dame. When will he be ready? I have no clue. He's working very hard to rehab the ankle, but he still has pain."

--Field Level Media

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