Two great solo efforts not enough for ‘Canes against FSU
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — On a night when University of Miami students were encouraged to dress as superheroes, graduate forward Donnavan Kirk put together a career performance.
But every superhero needs a cast of characters.
Aside from senior guard Rion Brown’s 21 points, no other Hurricane scored in double digits in Miami’s 63-53 loss to Florida State on Wednesday at BankUnited Center.
Kirk made all six of his first-half shots, including a buzzer-beating jumper. His teammates, however, went just 6-for-25 (24 percent).
After the Hurricanes (9-7, 1-3 ACC) took a 28-24 lead into halftime, the Seminoles (12-4, 3-1 ACC) switched from man-to-man to zone defense.
The move surprised Miami, which struggled to find an answer.
Of Kirk’s career-high 21 points, only seven came in the final 20 minutes. In his first contest against rival Florida State, Kirk notched his 11th multi-block game.
"They came out and started playing zone, so that changed things up and slowed the game down a little bit," said Kirk, who also recorded five rebounds and four blocks. "That changed things up for us offensively. We have to answer everything and do a better job."
Brown scored 16 second-half points by shooting 6-of-10 from the field.
On consecutive possessions he nailed buckets from 3-point range, the last of which gave Miami a 51-50 lead with 4:07 remaining.
Florida State’s length — seven players stand 6-foot-7 or taller — altered shots around the basket and forced the Hurricanes to spread the court and settle for perimeter looks.
"I wouldn’t say as much as we thought it would," Brown said of it affecting UM’s selection. "They did bother a couple of our layups. We weren’t making the right reads. They’re a big team — we expected that going in — but there are things we could’ve done."
Kirk and Brown combined for all but 11 of Miami’s points. The pair went 17-for-28 (61 percent), while its teammates made four of 31 shots (13 percent). Junior forward James Kelly, who scored four points, had the third-highest total for the Hurricanes. Only two second-half points came from someone other than Kirk or Brown — a free throw each for Kelly and graduate guard Garrius Adams.
Coach Jim Larranaga knew entering the season lighting up the scoreboard would be hard to come by for Miami, which lost its top five scorers from last season.
"Our goal was to have 4-5 guys in double figures, but you see when guys don’t make shots (there’s) not much you can do," Larranaga said. "For the most part I don’t think they took a lot of bad shots."
With Miami trailing 52-51 with 3:48 left, Adams drove down the lane and tried to dunk the ball, but it bounced off the back of the rim. Down by three a minute later, freshman guard Manu Lecomte couldn’t connect on a wide open 3-pointer.
Florida State went on a 13-2 run to close out the game in front of 7,413 — the largest home crowd of the year.
"We just didn’t give them enough support offensively battling at the end," Larranaga said. "The last three-and-a-half minutes they had a way to score and we didn’t."