Miami quietly was making its way into contention in the ACC until busting into the national spotlight with a recent road win over a top-10 team.
There may not be a better opportunity to earn a rare victory over No. 15 Florida State.
The visiting Hurricanes look to end a five-game losing streak to the Seminoles, who are coming off an embarrassing defeat to the conference’s last-place team.
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Miami (15-7, 6-3) followed its stunning 78-74 overtime win at then-No. 7 Duke on Sunday with a 65-49 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday, winning its sixth straight to pull within one game of the ACC lead.
Reggie Johnson scored a game-high 27 points against the Blue Devils and had a team-best 15 on Thursday for the Hurricanes, who have won five straight conference games for the first time since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 season.
Miami has not won six consecutive conference games since Jan. 17-Feb. 7, 2000, as a member of the Big East.
Coach Jim Larranaga is looking ahead rather than focusing on previous success.
“When people look at you, they might look at a whole series of games. We don’t,” Larranaga said. “We only look at one. Who is our next opponent? How do we get ready for them? I don’t think about the past games or how many games we’ve won. I think about how do we play against our next opponent. Hopefully the players are doing the same thing.”
Given Miami’s win at Duke and other surprising results around the league, Larranaga said the ACC is one of the country’s deepest conferences.
“Every team in this league is very talented and capable of beating you any place,” Larranaga said. “You see that every night. I’m watching the ticker (Wednesday) and you see Boston College beat Florida State.”
That 64-60 loss for the Seminoles (16-7, 7-2), who also boast a shocking victory at Duke on Jan. 21, ended their seven-game winning streak and dropped them into a first-place tie with Duke and North Carolina.
Michael Snaer, who scored 16 points, said Florida State simply wasn’t prepared.
“Starting off the game, what we did, not respecting that team – we weren’t as focused as we should have been and that caught up with us at the end of the game,” Snaer said. “We get national recognition, and we didn’t handle it well.”
Coach Leonard Hamilton agreed regarding his squad’s lack of focus while also praising the conference, much like Larranaga.
“That’s the way it is in the ACC if you’re not on your game. Somebody else will be on theirs and that showed up in the result,” Hamilton said. “They were hungrier and they were motivated. If you don’t come with that focus, everybody in the league will beat you.”
Florida State has rarely been beaten by Miami in recent seasons, though.
The Seminoles have won 10 of the past 11 meetings – the last four by six points or fewer – with the only loss coming Jan. 21, 2009. Ten of the past 12 matchups have been decided by no more than eight points.
The Hurricanes have dropped five straight in Tallahassee since an 84-78 overtime victory Jan. 29, 2006.
Miami leading scorer Durand Scott is looking to bounce back from a season-low two-point, 1-of-7 shooting effort against the Hokies. He was 5 for 20 from the field in last season’s two losses to the Seminoles.