TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Shane Larkin drove, dished and shot. Almost everything he did on Wednesday night was the right move — especially late in the second half.
Larkin had options coming out of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High School, including Miami and Florida State. He attended coach Leonard Hamilton’s camps and was recruited actively by both the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
“They kind of recruited me,” Larkin said. “But I’m glad I ended up in Miami.”
Larkin has been the engine to Miami’s offense all season. And on Wednesday night, the sophomore point guard scored nine points late in the game as the No. 3 Hurricanes overcame a furious Florida State rally to grab a 74-68 win at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Larkin had a game-high 22 points, shooting 9 of 15 from the floor, and Reggie Johnson added 14 points as the Hurricanes improved to 11-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“In the second half we didn’t have an answer for Larkin,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Larkin, the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. “He made some really, really great plays. 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.”
The same can be said for the Hurricanes, who at times were shaky but displayed toughness in holding off a second-half charge from Florida State.
Miami (20-3) has won 20 games in four consecutive seasons but the Hurricanes still have seven regular-season games left to add to that total. They are the last power conference team with an unblemished conference record, and they are the first team from the ACC to go 11-0 since North Carolina did it in 2000-01.
This one, however, went down to the wire — despite Miami shooting 63.8 percent (30 of 47) for the game. And beyond Larkin, everyone in a Miami jersey shot well: Johnson made all five of his shots, Durand Scott added 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Julian Gamble had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Johnson’s play was key off the bench, scoring eight first-half points as the Hurricanes rallied from an early 13-2 deficit. Florida State didn’t have enough of a post presence to match up with the nearly 300-pound Johnson.
“I really thought Reggie was the difference,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Okaro White had 15 points for Florida State (13-11, 5-6), but he fouled out with 2:04 left. Trailing 51-39, the Seminoles scored 12 consecutive points to tie it with 10:10 to go on White’s tip-in, but Larkin scored nine points in a stretch that lasted just more than three minutes to keep Miami in control.
Florida State, which has won three ACC games this year on Michael Snaer buzzer-beaters, had its chances to tie the game or slice the deficit.
But Ian Miller missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 25 seconds to go and then, with Miami ahead by four and 15 seconds left, Snaer missed a 3-pointer.
“I thought we showed a lot of fight,” Hamilton said.
The Seminoles had won six consecutive games at home against Miami, a streak that dated back to January 2006. And Miami couldn’t have started worse, falling behind 13-2 in the opening minutes. But then the Hurricanes put on an impressive shooting display.
Miami made 73.9 percent of its shots in the first half, going on a 20-5 run and capitalizing on FSU’s struggles to defend in the lane. But even a 38-30 lead at the half wasn’t safe late until Miami sealed the win in the final minute.
Florida State has beaten six top-five teams in the past three seasons but has struck out in 2012-13. The Seminoles played three of the nation’s current top-six teams — Duke, Miami and Florida — and lost all three by 19 or more points. But the Seminoles looked different, at least early, on Wednesday.
However, in the end, Florida State fell to 13-11 and missed out on another chance to improve its postseason resume. The Seminoles have beaten a Top-25 team in each of the last 22 seasons but don’t have one so far this season.
“We don’t have the luxury of counting victories at this point,” Hamilton said. “We have to play well against Boston College (on Saturday). We’d love to go undefeated — that would be just awesome the rest of the way. But we can’t go undefeated unless we take care of business on Saturday.”