Welcome to the Donald L Tucker Center, where your undefeated conference records come to die. Miami entered this game 5-0 in the ACC and fresh off of a win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Many were expecting offensive fireworks from a Hurricanes team that came into the came averaging 77 PPG. What we were treated to instead was a slugfest where it never felt like FSU was going to be able to get over the hump.
Miami came out of the gates firing on all cylinders with a 15-7 run to start the game, then FSU would go on a 13-0 run to get back in the game in the first half. The rest of the game was very push-and-pull. Miami would go up 4, FSU would cut it to 1. Miami would get it to 5, FSU would bring it back to 2. The was the last 10 minutes of the first half and pretty much the entire second half. Miami led for more than 32 minutes, 80% of the game, and shot 43% from 3. And lost. Miami is one of the 10 most experienced teams in the country, and lost to a very inexperienced FSU team.
Maybe this is the game FSU needs. They got confidence against Louisville, but to beat an experienced team like Miami, who is full of guys who have been in that system for 3 or 4 years, is a testament to how this team is growing.
Malik Osborne made up for his miss at the buzzer against South Carolina with a 3 with less than 30 seconds left to go up two, before a mishandled rebound led to a corner 3 for Charlie Moore for Miami and he knocked it down with 7 seconds left. Pretty much everyone, including myself, figured the ball would go to Caleb Mills. We'll break down what made it work, but Evans drove to the basket, forced the officials to make a call, and calmly knocked down 2 FTs with 0.8 on the clock to win 65-64 and make it Florida State's 8th straight win over Miami.
Before we get to the plays, some box score notes.
That lead time stat is incredible. Miami led for 32 minutes and still lost. Credit to a young Florida State team for hanging in the ball game and finding a way to win. It's not always going to be dominating from start to finish, sometimes you have to find a way to win ugly, and that was this game. Nothing else really stands out to me. A lot of steals for both teams (hence the title of the article, heh), and 15 turnovers is really too many for FSU, luckily a few of them were dead ball. There were times where they'd grab a rebound and just go, not being aware of their surroundings and it would lead to a turnover. Those will get fixed, I'm not too concerned about it.
One thing that does stick out are points in the paint, or I should say lack thereof. Miami had 52 points in the paint against Duke Saturday night, a big reason why they won. To leave this game with just 20 is a huge win for Florida State. The Seminoles may not have your prototypical shot blocker, but they're still top-20 in block rate as a team for a reason. It is not easy to score at the rim against this team.
Besides Jalen Warley having an 0-2 stretch from the free throw line when the game was in the waning moments (he was seen on the court after the game shooting more FTs), FSU was really good from the charity stripe: 13-16. They kind of struggled against Louisville, so good to see them bounce back in this game. They also shot just 1/10 from 3 in the first half, then rebounded to shoot 5/10 from 3 in the second half. They really should've shot better than that, there were a lot of WIDE open looks, but a win is a win.
Matthew Cleveland was once again great. 15 points and 4 rebounds is a great way to keep giving the coaching staff confidence in you. His jump shot and free throws are coming along (was 4/5 from the stripe tonight), but he is special around the rim. Such elite body control in the air and elite athleticism. He's growing into a really good player.
RayQuan Evans will be remembered as the hero of the night, and for good reason, but those 2 FTs at the end of the game weren't the only thing he did well tonight. 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, while also having a team high +13 in +/-. His fingerprints were all over this game. Miami isn't used to having to catch the ball 30 feet away from the basket, and Evans was a huge reason for that by forcing high catches.
Anthony Polite has been struggling to shoot, so he just relentlessly attacked the basket and finished with 12 points including a perfect 4/4 from the FT line. If you know Polite's history from the FT line, him being 80% from the FT line on the season is a huge improvement for him.
For Miami, it was all Charlie Moore early, and he hit the biggest shot for them at the end of the game. He finished with 20 points on a really efficient 8/12 from the floor and 4/5 from 3. For someone listed at 5'11", he really stuck it to Florida State, even grabbing an offensive rebound in the last two minutes despite being 5 inches shorter than anyone on FSU's roster. It was just his third offensive rebound of the season.
Kameron McGusty was right on average with 17 points, though a decent chunk of his points came from the free throw line. He and Jordan Miller hit some pretty tough shots in the second half that left you shaking your head.
Isaiah Wong may have had 10 points, but it came on 4/12 shooting. For the most part, the ACC Preseason 1st-Team Member was held in check. No one else for Miami made a huge impact, expect for maybe Deng Gak, who was an impressive -7 in 2 minutes.
Onto the plays, and there is a lot to talk about.
Scenario: Malik Osborne, Clutch
The plays in this game were easy, it's the final 3 plays in the game.
I normally don't let the clips run on for this long, but it's important to talk about the start of the possession. I agree with announcer Cory Alexander in that Caleb Mills should've tried to attack the basket with 5'11" Charlie Moore guarding you, who has 4 fouls. At least try to get within 12 feet of the basket. If it doesn't work, then you pull it out and try again.
From there, it was helter skelter as FSU looks for a good shot. Malik Osborne loses Miami's defense in the madness and is wide open for 3 and sinks, after missing 9 straight from 3 heading into that shot over the last few games. He's been cold from distance since he turned his ankle at the end of the NC State game. He made up for the miss at the end of the South Carolina game with this one right here.
Scenario: Miami's Final Offensive Possession
The game really should've been over right here. Miami is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country, and they get two here in the same possession with less than 15 seconds left. Then the kick out to Charlie Moore, who was arguably the greatest player on the floor tonight. Felt like a back breaker, especially following the high that was Osborne's 3.
Scenario: 0:07 on the clock, FSU inbounds on the far side
Like I said earlier, pretty much everyone expected Caleb Mills to get the ball in this situation, but this is a phenomenal play design to fake the handoff to him and get RayQuan Evans downhill. And Evans did a great job of selling it by slowing down then going full 100% on the gas when he knew he was turning it down. He drove into the defender and forced the officials to call the foul, which they correctly did. A lot will be made about the ball, but it was the correct call.
Then Evans, who is a really good free-throw shooter and the first Native American to ever suit up for Florida State, walks up and knocks down both shots to win the game, all while Florida State is wearing their Native American heritage N7 jerseys. Talk about a storybook ending.
Florida State will look to exact revenge on Syracuse, as they travel up to New York to take on the Orange Saturday at 3pm.
This play from Caleb Mills was too smooth not to include. Silky.