It has all come together so well for No. 13 Miami.
The Hurricanes are atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings and riding a seven-game winning streak.
The last thing they can afford is a slip-up at home Saturday afternoon against Florida State at Coral Gables, Fla.
“A lot at stake,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “Our practices have been terrific. The attention to detail, the energy level.”
Miami (23-5, 14-4 ACC) holds a half-game lead on Virginia and Pittsburgh, though all three teams have four league losses.
This is the first time since Miami won the ACC in 2012-13 that the Hurricanes have won seven conference games in a row. Now, they’re arguably the hottest team in the country among members of major conferences.
The Hurricanes had five players score in double figures in Tuesday night’s 76-70 victory at Virginia Tech. Reserve Bensley Joseph accounted for 10 points.
“That’s good balance with our offense,” Larranaga said. “Those are the things you need from your bench.”
Florida State (8-20, 6-11) has lost four games in a row and seven of its last eight games. The Seminoles haven’t played since a 75-69 home loss to Boston College on Feb. 18.
“This team has not come close to playing its best basketball,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
The Seminoles and Louisville are the lone ACC teams that haven’t reached the 10-win mark overall this season.
“The challenge we have is being a little bit more mature and executing for the full 40 minutes,” Hamilton said. “The ACC, you can’t win basketball games playing (well) for 26 minutes. We have not developed that mindset that allows us to go out and play at our very best for 40 minutes.”
After a recent game, Hamilton couldn’t help but identify one of the issues.
“I looked up, we had three freshmen out there,” he said.
Miami won 86-63 on Jan. 24 at Florida State with Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong leading the offense with 18 points apiece. The Hurricanes shot 56.4 percent from the field.
Florida State shot 3-for-22 on 3-pointers in the first meeting.
Florida State continues to see development from freshman forward Baba Miller, a player the Seminoles think can provide a boost as he continues to figure out the college game.
“When you miss 16 games and miss all the work in the spring and the summer, it’s hard to catch up. You learn a different style and a different system. I think he has done an excellent job of adjusting. I think as we finish the season, he’s going to give you a real idea of who he really is.”
Wong, who rates ninth in ACC scoring this season with 16.3 points per game, continues to rise on Miami’s all-time lists, moving up two spots earlier this week to fifth with 1,723 career points.
Florida State ranks last in ACC defense by allowing 76.3 points per game. The Seminoles also sit last in 3-point defense by allowing opponents to shoot 36.9 percent from behind the arc.
The Hurricanes have only two regular-season games remaining. After the Florida State game, they’ll have a week off before Pittsburgh visits.
–Field Level Media