TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Even after watching his team cede its nearly game-long lead with about a minute to play, and even after watching Miami connect on a virtually unfathomable 17 3-pointers, Leonard Hamilton wasn’t ever worried about how overtime between Florida State and the Hurricanes would play out.
The way the Seminoles carried themselves during the few moments between the end of regulation and the start of the extra frame told the FSU coach everything he needed to know.
“It was very interesting to see their body language,” Hamilton said. “They were extremely determined, all of them. … (They were saying), ‘We’re not going to lose this game. We’re not going to lose this game.’”
“Saying it and believing it,” junior forward Terance Mann later added.
The Seminoles then made believers out of both the Hurricanes and the sellout crowd of 11,675 by scoring the first seven points of overtime on the way to a 103-94 victory at the Tucker Center.
FSU scored on each of its 12 possessions of the overtime period and outscored the Canes 20-11 to pick up its third straight victory and improve its record to 16-5, 5-4 at the midway point of ACC play.
With a three-game winning streak in ACC play for the first time since February of last year, the Seminoles will hit the road for a pair of games at Wake Forest (Wednesday, 8 p.m.; ACC Network) and Louisville.
“We didn’t take our foot off the gas, at all,” said forward Phil Cofer, who led the Seminoles with 21 points, eight rebounds and a key block at the end of overtime.
“Everybody was more focused on defense than offense, and I think that’s what helped our offense come to us.”
With Cofer leading the way, FSU saw six different players score in double figures for the second time this season. Joining him were Braian Angola (18), CJ Walker (17), Mann (14), M.J. Walker (13) and Christ Koumadje (13).
“Their lowest guy had 13,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “Sometimes, that’s your leading scorer.”
Sometimes, but not on a night in which both teams torched the opposing defenses from all ends of the floor.
Although FSU led for all but 4:06 and enjoyed healthy advantages in shooting percentage (60.0-50.0), rebounding (35-29) and free-throw attempts (39-13), Miami kept things close for the duration with 3-point shooting that, at times, seemed to defy logic.
The Hurricanes attempted a school-record 34 shots from distance and connected on 17 of them.
Some were wide open, some were contested, and some – as was the case for one of UM sophomore Dejan Vasiljevic’s six made 3s – bounced up off the rim and rolled around a bit before finally finding the net.
“Never in my imagination did I think we could win a game with them making 17 3s,” Hamilton said.
“It kept us in it,” Larranaga added. “But we couldn’t stop them.”
Indeed, Hamilton said after the game that his game plan was to work the ball inside as much as possible, and then use that to create opportunities from the perimeter.
Safe to say it worked. FSU scored 38 points in the paint while also connecting on nine of 19 3-point attempts, many of which kept the Hurricanes at bay during the second half.
However, it was a missed 3-pointer from Mann that opened the door for Miami to tie the game for the first time since it was 2-2. UM’s Dewan Huell took advantage with a layup that tied the score at 83-83 and, despite both teams having a chance to win in regulation, the game went to overtime moments later.
That’s when Hamilton saw his players regroup, refocus and reassert themselves over their rival.
“They never showed any signs of panic,” Hamilton said. “And you like to see your team show that type of poise during a very important game.”
It started with an alley-oop from Angola to Koumadje, then continued with a Cofer steal and a transition layup from CJ Walker.
Another Miami miss followed by a three-point play from Mann pushed FSU’s lead to 90-83 and made the overtime period decidedly less dramatic than it might otherwise have been.
Not that anyone in Florida State’s locker room would complain about that.
“I think the first few possessions, we kind of surprised them with the intensity,” Mann said. “And that’s how we ended up winning.”