Entering its last game of February, Miami is playing its best basketball of the season.
The Hurricanes have won seven games in a row, marking their longest ACC win streak since the 2012-13 season. UM is also tied with UCLA for the longest active major conference win streak in college basketball.
Because of this streak, Miami has leveled its way up to first place in the ACC standings with only two games left in the regular season. If UM wins these two games, it will be awarded at least a share of the regular-season conference title for the first time since 2013.
With a matchup against Florida State on the horizon, however, Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga isn’t focused on the outside implications of his team’s win streak.
“We’ve said it all season long, you got to take one game at a time. You can’t look forward. You can’t look back. You really need to understand that execution is the most important thing. Play really hard, play really smart and play together because it doesn’t matter what you’re ranked,” Larrañaga said. “It matters how well you play on the day you play that opponent, so we’ve got to play our best basketball on Saturday [at] 4 p.m. Nothing else matters.”
Miami defeated the Seminoles by 23 in the first meeting between the two teams in January, but Florida State still has the potential to cause the Hurricanes problems as the season series shifts from Tallahassee to Miami.
Florida State is led by Matthew Cleveland, a lengthy 6-foot-7 sophomore guard who has averaged 14 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season, both of which are team highs.
Cleveland struggled in his previous matchup against Miami this year. He couldn’t find consistency with his shot and finished with only 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
This type of performance is rare from Cleveland, and Larrañaga has noted that “things change” when playing an opponent multiple times in a season.
“Every time you play an opponent, even if it’s for the second or third time, things change. The first time we played Louisville at Louisville, our first conference game, we played terrific and the second time we played them, it was a dogfight from start to finish,” Larrañaga said. “The first time we played Florida State at Florida State, we played terrific from start to finish, but Florida State has had a whole week off to prepare for us. I’m sure they’re gonna be as focused as we are, and it should be a great college basketball game.”
The Seminoles will look to upset their in-state rivals to create momentum for themselves with the ACC Tournament approaching. Miami and Florida State will face off at the Watsco Center, and the game will air on ESPN2.
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