Florida State won close games and routs. There were plenty of road struggles in the 2016-17 season, but the Seminoles polished off an undefeated home season.
Sophomore wing Dwayne Bacon scored 23 points and senior forward Jarquez Smith added 11 points and five rebounds as FSU wrapped up an 18-0 record at the Donald L. Tucker Center with a 66-57 victory over Miami on Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Davon Reed scored 22 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including four 3-pointers, and tried to will Miami to a win. But the rest of the Hurricanes shot 12 of 32 from the floor as FSU secured its sixth undefeated home season in school history and the first since a 13-0 mark by the 1975-76 team.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Something we can hang our hat on.”
Smith said Hamilton challenged the team on Friday night to send Smith and fellow senior Michael Ojo out as undefeated players at home.
“Coach made it everyone else’s priority to send me and Ojo off like legends in our last home game,” Smith said. “I think it fired everybody else up, fired me up, fired Ojo up. We just came out and got it done.”
FSU (24-7, 12-6 ACC) has secured the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament at Brooklyn, N.Y., and will have a double bye. The Seminoles won’t play until a quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Thursday. Miami (20-10, 10-8 ACC) will play Syracuse at noon Wednesday.
The Seminoles improved to 6-3 against teams currently in the AP Top 25. FSU was picked to place eighth in the 15-team conference only to earn the No. 2 seed.
“It’s a great day,” Bacon said. “When we found out we were picked to be eighth, we (felt) we were better than that. It means a lot for our team and coaches that we took care of business.”
FSU did just that minutes into the second half Saturday. With the game tied at 37, the Hurricanes didn’t make a shot from the floor for 5 minutes and 41 seconds. The Seminoles capitalized on the opportunity, going on a 12-3 run to take a comfortable 49-40 with 9:18 remaining.
Part of FSU’s success was a zone defense that limited Miami’s dribble penetration.
“We came out in the second half and we really came up empty,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We made way too many mistakes against their zone.”
FSU was in control until the final seconds when Dewan Huell made a free throw to help Miami cut the Seminoles’ lead to 61-57 with 19 seconds left. But Bacon made a layup, was fouled and made the free throw to secure the win.
FSU shot 25 of 57 (43.9 percent) from the floor. The Seminoles again struggled from beyond the 3-point arc, making just 4 of 19 (21.1 percent) of their shots.
Miami shot 18 of 43 (41.9 percent) from the floor. The Hurricanes made 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) of their shots from beyond the arc.
While Miami must quickly prepare for Syracuse on Wednesday, the Seminoles get a breather and will watch how the first few games unfold to see who they will play. This is the luxury of the double bye, a reward for the success at home and time to recharge for the ACC tournament.
“It means a lot because I know how it was when we played the first day and then the second day,” Bacon said. “It wears you out. We get to rest a lot and get ready for Thursday.”