‘Noles open ACC tournament against ‘Canes

Florida State and Miami are both teams that play aggressive defense and can pull away when they make 3-pointers.

The teams split their regular-season meetings and now face off for Round 3 today at 9:30 in an Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal game in Atlanta.

Plenty is at stake. Both teams of course would like to make a run in the ACC tournament. But Miami is in search of a 20th win, one that should take them off the bubble and put them in the NCAA Tournament. FSU (21-9) doesn’t have to worry about being in the field, but the Seminoles could secure a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a win over Miami tonight.

FSU and Miami took different paths to their regular season head-to-head wins.

In the first game, FSU forward Bernard James was able to run 290-pound Miami center Reggie Johnson ragged. James wore down Johnson, scoring 18 points in FSU’s 64-59 win. Guard Ian Miller came off the bench to add 11 points for FSU.

Forward Kenny Kadji had 14 points for Miami. It was a game that could have turned on the 3-pointer – only neither team could make them. Miami went 5 of 22 from beyond the arc, while FSU was 5 of 16.

In the second game, guard Durand Scott had 17 points in Miami’s 78-62 win. The Hurricanes shot 60.9 percent in the second half, draining seven 3-pointers to pull away from FSU. Kadji filled the void for the suspended Johnson and had 15 points.

Michael Snaer had 20 points for FSU, but the Seminoles shot just 5 of 23 from beyond the 3-point arc.

So if you’re looking for two key matchups tonight, watch the James-Johnson battle down low and also look at the 3-point shooting.

The Hurricanes are coming off a quarterfinal win over Georgia Tech late Thursday night. Miami scored just 19 first-half points, but shot 41.4 percent from the floor in the second half to rout Georgia Tech 54-36.

The Hurricanes held the Yellow Jackets to just 31.8 percent shooting, and Georgia Tech made only 3 of 16 3-pointers.

The question remains this: can Miami come back tonight and be as aggressive on defense?

The Hurricanes had six players log 22 or more minutes in the win over Georgia Tech. They may not be exhausted playing just 24 hours later, but they won’t be fresh either.

Head-to-head matchups in 2011-12: FSU defeated Miami 64-59 on Feb. 11 in Tallahassee. Miami defeated FSU 78-62 in Coral Gables.

Series: FSU leads 39-29. The teams have never played in the ACC Tournament.

FSU projected starting lineup: G Michael Snaer (14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 39.3 percent from 3 pt), G Luke Loucks (6.2 points, 4.0 assists), G Deividas Dulkys (6.9 points, 38.7 percent from 3 pt), F Xavier Gibson (7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds), F Bernard James (10.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks).

FSU key reserves: G Ian Miller (10.8 points), F Okaro White (7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds).

Miami projected starting lineup: G Malcolm Grant (11.0 points) G Durand Scott (12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists), G Shane Larkin (7.0 points, 2.5 assists), F Kenny Kadji (12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds), C Reggie Johnson (10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds).

Miami key reserve: G Trey McKinney Jones (6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds).

Noteworthy: FSU has won 12 of its last 15 games. … Miami is 16-4 when shooting better than 40 percent … The Seminoles are averaging 16.6 turnovers per game.