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FSU survives late Miami rally to take first in ACC standings

Florida State looked far from sluggish early in taking a 24-point halftime lead. The second half? It was plagued by 15 turnovers but also showed the the Seminoles’ perseverance on the road.

Miami climbed all the way back but Isaiah Wong missed a jump shot as time expired and the Seminoles escaped with a 61-60 win. Caleb Mills scored 16 points and Anthony Polite had 15 points (13 in the first half) as FSU knocked off Miami for a second straight week.

“I think you saw the best half that we’ve played all year and you probably saw what could be the worst half that we’ve played all year,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “That just shows a little bit about where we are in terms of execution and being able to adjust to different types of defensive schemes. We’ve struggled a little bit against zone defenses. We’ve been a little inconsistent with our perimeter shooting. But that’s what teams that maybe are dominated by first-year guys will do. The positive thing about that is we’re finding a way to win games while we’re still growing and developing.”

The Seminoles capped a 3-0 week, one that featured a win over a top-10 team (Duke on Tuesday) and the ACC leader (Miami).

FSU (13-5, 6-2 ACC) is now the ACC leader after picking up a pair of resume-defining quadrant 1 wins in the NCAA’s NET rankings. Miami was ranked 66th in the NET coming in to Saturday’s game, with victories over top 75 teams on the road valued highly as the NCAA Selection Committee uses a quadrant system to evaluate the importance of wins.

The Seminoles out rebounded Miami 39-27, with a number of them critical late, to win their sixth straight game and ninth overall in the series against Miami.

Polite had 13 first-half points and Caleb Mills added eight points as FSU used a 14-1 run to take a controlling 43-19 lead at the half. But the second half was a different story as FSU lost focus and turned it over often, with Mills finishing with seven of FSU’s 17 turnovers on the day.

The Seminoles had eight steals and five blocks.

FSU’s coaching staff managed minutes well following a busy week that featured wins over No. 6 Duke on Tuesday and North Florida on Thursday afternoon. Malik Osborne did not play against the Ospreys and looked out of sync on the offensive end but had four points (on 1 of 10 shooting) with eight rebounds in 23 minutes.

Hamilton said FSU’s stretch of playing four games in eight days probably took its toll on the team. But it’s also one where the Seminoles were able to come out of it 4-0.

“We knew we had to be tough in this four-game stretch,” Mills said. “It tested us, especially these last two games.”

Box score

The FSU-Miami box score can be viewed here.

Up next

FSU plays at Georgia Tech on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (ACC Network).