Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Miami fights off FSU

TALLAHASSEE — If it hadn't been for a coaching change a couple of years ago, Shane Larkin might have been playing for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State.

Instead, Andy Enfield, the FSU assistant recruiting the 5-foot-11 guard, left to take the head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast, and Larkin chose Miami.

The son of baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, Shane showed Seminole fans Wednesday night what might have been.

Miami's sophomore point guard had 13 of his 22 points in the final 7½ minutes to help third-ranked Miami hold off FSU 74-68 for its 12th straight victory.

No one was more impressed than Hamilton, who had Larkin in his summer camps for two years.

"We didn't have an answer for Larkin," Hamilton said.

"His speed, quickness and his ability to make decisions is phenomenal for a sophomore guard. I haven't seen anybody that has the whole package like he does."

"He is going to do whatever he thinks the team needs him to do," second-year Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "He is a guy that could be scoring 20 or 25 points in games. But he's also all about winning, and he's ready and willing and able to get the ball to the other guys."

Reggie Johnson added 15 points for Miami (20-3, 11-0 ACC), which became the first team to start the league season 11-0 in a dozen years.

The 6-10, 290-pound Johnson came off the bench and spurred a 25-5 run midway through the first half to help the Hurricanes wipe out a 13-2 deficit on their way to a 38-30 halftime lead.

"I wanted to get the team a boost, and I think I did that in the first half," Johnson said. "There's no magic. I think we're just hungry."

Durand Scott had 13 points and Julian Gamble 10 for the Hurricanes, who will try to keep their ACC slate perfect Sunday at Clemson.

Scott's three-point play gave Miami a 51-39 lead with 13:05 left, but FSU countered with a 12-0 run keyed by two Terry Whisnant 3s, eventually tying the score on a basket by Clearwater High's Okaro White. But the Seminoles never could get the lead.

The Hurricanes built their lead back to 68-56, largely behind Larkin.

"It's a very tough team when you've got a quick point guard like that and then you have deadly shooters on each wing," White said.

White led the Seminoles (13-11, 5-6) with 15 points before fouling out with 2:04 left. Freshman Devon Bookert added 12 points.

Larkin, meanwhile, has no regrets.

"I'm glad I ended up in Miami," he said afterward.

North Carolina was the last team to start its ACC schedule 11-0. The Tar Heels, however, faded down the stretch of the 2000-01 season and finished 13-3 in the league while arch­rival Duke, led by Shane Battier, went on to win the national championship.

Two years earlier, the Blue Devils became the only team in ACC history to go 16-0 in league play, but they lost to UConn in the national championship game at Tropicana Field.

The ACC has gone to 18 conference games now because of expansion.

Miami, which had never been ranked higher than eighth nationally before this season, hasn't lost since Christmas Day. The 'Canes cracked the Top 25 just three weeks ago and rocketed toward the top on the strength of several impressive victories.

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