Florida St.-Miami Preview
(AP) - Miami heads into Saturday's home game against Florida State with a 1-0 record in the ACC, and guard Ja'Quan Newton is confident there are many more wins to come.
''I see our potential as being going to the Final Four and going undefeated in the league,'' Newton said Thursday.
Nothing like a little bulletin board material to spruce up an intrastate rivalry. Not that the No. 12 Hurricanes are dissing Florida State, even though the Seminoles have lost their first two league games.
''They are the most talented team we will have faced so far,'' Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
The Hurricanes (12-1) have played only two ranked teams and beat them both - Utah and Butler. Their league victory came last Saturday against Syracuse, their seventh straight, and their strength of schedule is only 69th.
As a result, the matchup against Florida State (10-4) offers a welcome chance to see if Miami is as good as Newton and poll voters believe. The Hurricanes' loss came at home against Northeastern and their past six wins have come by double figures.
''We have so many different weapons,'' Newton said. ''There's no position we don't have. We're a complete team.''
Not so much in the first half of the past two games, when the Hurricanes scored 27 and 17 points. Larranaga blamed an erratic practice schedule over the holidays.
Even with those recent difficulties, Miami is among the national leaders in shooting (49.9 percent) and points per game (83.6).
The Hurricanes will need their shooting touch because a high-scoring game is likely against the Seminoles, who average 82.1 points and are coming off a 106-90 loss to No. 6 North Carolina on Monday.
''The first challenge for us is to get back defensively, because they are playing faster than ever before,'' Larranaga said.
Larranaga said the Seminoles have three NBA-bound guards, including Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who had a memorable performance when he played at Miami on Feb. 25 as a freshman. Rathan-Mayes scored 30 of his career high-tying 35 points in the final 4:38, including 26 consecutive Seminoles points without missing a shot, as he tried to rally them from an 18-point deficit.
Larranaga smiled as he reminisced about the game because the Hurricanes hung on to win 81-77 and hand the Seminoles their third defeat in their last four visits to Miami.
''Rathan-Mayes was absolutely unconscious,'' Larranaga said. ''After the game he should have declared for the draft - he was that good.''
Rathan-Mayes is third on the Seminoles with 12.4 points per game, with freshmen guards Dwayne Bacon (17.2) and Malik Beasley (17.0) leading the way. Rathan-Mayes scored a season-best 30 against the Tar Heels, Bacon had 18 and Beasley added 15.
"I think the team is young, immature and still growing," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We have moments where we play outstanding and we have our moments where we show our youth and inexperience. We had four freshmen on the floor at some points and I thought they held their own.
" ... You don't like to start off 0-2, but that's life in the ACC and we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves."
More challenges await Miami beginning Tuesday, when it plays the first of three consecutive road games - against No. 4 Virginia, Clemson and Boston College. While Newton talked of running the table in the ACC, Larranaga said he's braced for ups and downs in the talent-rich league.
''We might have as many as 10 teams make the NCAA Tournament,'' Larranaga said.