Florida State believes it is ready for the next step.
Bring on the ACC tournament semifinals. Bring on Duke.
“I think we know we have a tremendous opportunity to do something great,” guard Michael Snaer said after leading No. 17 Florida State past short-handed Miami 82-71 on Friday night in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
Snaer scored 20 points and Ian Miller had 18 to lead Florida State (22-9) into Saturday’s semifinals against Duke, the No. 2 seed and the nation’s No. 6 team.
“We know we’ve got to be at our very best because we know they’re going to be at their very best,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.
Miami was not its very best.
The Hurricanes played without their leading scorer, Durand Scott. The university ruled Scott ineligible Friday for receiving impermissible benefits.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga said he was told Scott was ineligible Friday afternoon. He told the team at the pregame meal about four hours before the game.
”We’ve been in that type of situation before,” said Malcolm Grant, who led Miami with 19 points. “We told [Scott] that we had his back and we would go out and play our hardest for him.”
Shane Larkin had 16 for Miami (19-12).
While the Seminoles are hoping to improve their seed in the NCAA tournament, Miami is unsure where it stands with the selection committee and if Scott would be eligible for the tournament.
Florida State fans had a suggestion for Miami, chanting “NIT, NIT” in the final seconds.
“I think we’ve played well enough that if we do get selected we can make a run in the tournament,” Larranaga said of his team’s NCAA hopes. “But that’s out of our hands.”
Florida State is returning to the semifinals after finishing third in the regular season for the third straight year. The Seminoles lost in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament each of the last two years after falling in the 2009 championship game in Atlanta.
Bernard James and Luke Loucks each had 14 points for Florida State.
“We’re confident in our abilities,” said Snaer, who made 4 of 5 3-point attempts. “We’re playing like it. We know we need all of our pieces and we need each other to win. I can’t wait to get started.”
Miami struggled to score in its first game of the tournament, and those struggles continued without Scott. Miami is seeking Scott’s reinstatement from the NCAA.
Friday it was sophomore Rion Brown who started for Scott and had 13 points.
Even with Scott, who leads the team with his average of 12.9 points per game, the Hurricanes didn’t light up the scoreboard in Thursday’s 54-36 win over Georgia Tech. Scott had 11 points in the game.
Miami couldn’t get it going in the first half against the Seminoles’ man-to-man defense. Miami made only 9 of 32 shots (28.1 percent) in the first 20 minutes. Florida State led 37-26 at halftime after making seven 3-pointers in the half.
Each team relied heavily on 3-pointers.
Miami stayed close early in the second half with the help of 3-pointers by Grant, Brown and Larkin.
A three-point play by James gave Florida State a 60-52 lead, but Miami closed the gap to three points on another 3-pointer by Grant, followed by baskets by Brown and Kenny Kadji.
Miller’s short jumper ended Miami’s run and helped the Seminoles quickly push the lead to 11 points at 70-59.