Two games in a row, two victories and two near heart attacks. That sums up Miami’s last-second win over Pittsburgh and the No. 12 Hurricanes’ 67-65 nail biter over Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. on Sunday night.
Miami (20-4, 9-3) blew sizable leads in both games only to come away with the win in the end. Against FSU, the Canes didn’t make a shot during the final four-plus minutes of the game, but four free throws by Tonye Jekiri and sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton were enough to hold off the Seminoles.
The Canes led by 11 at the half and by as many at 13 at one point. Early foul trouble on Jekiri helped the Seminoles to get back in the game as the senior center picked up his fourth foul less than eight minutes into the second half. Jekiri finished with a game-high nine rebounds and Sheldon McClellan stepped up in his absence, leading all players with 20 points on an injured right ankle.
Miami’s leading scorer is typically very efficient, shooting 53.4 percent from the field coming into the matchup against FSU. McClellan shot just 28.5 percent (4-of-14) against the Seminoles, but the redshirt senior guard hit nine of his 10 free throws to make up for his low percentage from the field.
The Seminoles (16-9, 6-7) tied the game at 50 on a deep three by Devon Bookert with 8:44 remaining. That capped off a 14-5 run by the Seminoles in nearly four and a half minutes. Two free throws by McClellan and back-to-back threes by redshirt senior guard Angel Rodriguez put the Canes up for good.
Miami took a 37-26 lead into half behind a combined 20 points from and junior guard Davon Reed. McClellan was the only player in double figures at 11 points. The last time Miami played in Tallahassee in February 2015, the Canes also led by 11 at the half, but the Seminoles came back to win by one.
Miami once again held FSU’s leading scorer Malik Beasley in check in the opening half. In Miami’s 72-59 over FSU in January, Beasley ended the first half with four points on 2-of-5 shooting. The freshman averaged 17.3 points coming into this game and went into the break with just two points on 0-of-2 shooting.
The Canes jumped out to a 11-2 lead less than six minutes into the game. The Seminoles countered with a run of their own to take a 15-14 lead at the 10:13 mark. Miami took over from there, going on a 17-6 run to take a double-digit with 3:08 left in the half. Miami outrebounded FSU 20-12 and scored 12 points off of 10 Seminole turnovers.
When Miami last played FSU in January, the Hurricanes never trailed as they beat the Seminoles by 13 at the BankUnited Center. Sunday night proved much more difficult, but the Canes walked away with the same result.
The Canes next play Virginia Tech at 9 p.m. on Wednesday at the BankUnited Center.