The Miami Hurricanes didn’t necessarily need Jack McClinton to make another game winning shot but it did call for all of his 28 points to defeat archrival Florida State, 75-69.
McClinton scored 19 points in the second half and had a game high six assists. Guard Lance Hurdle became McClinton’s duet partner adding 16 points, 14 points in the second half.
“It was a great win for us,” Head Coach Frank Haith said. “It was tough out there. We kept fighting. Great win for our guys. If we played like that, we are a very good basketball team.”
With the win, the Hurricanes improved to 14-4 and 3-2 in the ACC.
Last season, Florida State was one of the two teams to defeat Miami at the BankUnited Center, 62-55. The Seminoles also defeated the Hurricanes in the season finale in overtime, 75-72, in Tallahassee.
The Canes had plenty of motivation and vengeance on their mind this season against the Seminoles (15-4, 2-2).
“This was a new game, new year,” said Haith, whose team hasn’t defeated Florida State since 2006. “We didn’t worry about the losing streak.”
Both teams were in a deadlock throughout the second half until forward Adrian Thomas hit a three-pointer with 2:37 to give Miami their biggest lead of the game, 66-58.
The Hurricanes had to hold on late as the ACC’s third leading scorer, Florida State’s Toney Douglas, took the game into his hands. Douglas scored 11 of his 30 points in the final 2:20 of the game and tried to string out the game to the best of his ability. But a fast break dunk by Hurdle and three free throws by McClinton sealed the win for the Canes.
“He is a great player. He made great shots,” Haith said about Douglas. “He had it going on tonight. But we did handle the others [on the team]below their averages.”
McClinton finished 7-13 from the floor, hitting four three pointers, and 10-11 from the charity strip.
“He is a gifted guy. He can make the tough shots and if you give him space, he will make that. He has a unique skill because of his mentality,” Florida State Leonard Hamilton said about McClinton.
However, Miami opened the game sluggishly. Florida State attacked Miami quickly building a 16-4 lead but under the command of McClinton and Thomas, the Canes swiftly came back and took an one point lead into halftime, 30-29.
“The run before halftime to take the lead was big for us,” Haith said. “We starting making shot and we got into a rhythm.”
McClinton led all scorers with nine points and Thomas had a key five points in the final two minutes.
Thomas’s play carried over into the second half as he was the unsung hero, having 10 points and five steals.
“He is getting better and better. He is a key guy for us,” said Haith. “When he is out there, the offensive flows better because his perimeter skill and his defensive skills.”
The Hurricanes will host Virginia Tech this Sunday evening in another pivotal ACC game.
“This league is tough. We are extremely happy where we are,” Haith said. “We got another home this Sunday against a team that just beat Wake Forest. I know there is no nights off in this league. Every coach knows that.”