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No. 12 Miami fends off Florida State

By Danny Aller, The Sports Xchange

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This one wasn't as easy.

After Miami posted a 13-point victory in its first meeting with Florida State this season, the 12th-ranked had to hold off a big comeback by their rival Sunday to prevail 67-65 and sweep the season series.

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Guard Sheldon McClellan led the way with 20 points -- including going 9-for-10 from the foul line -- to help Miami earn its fourth consecutive win. The Hurricanes (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) strengthened their hold on second place in the league standings behind North Carolina.

"Just a good road win," a relieved Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "Those don't come easy in the ACC."

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Sunday's certainly didn't.

After taking a 37-26 lead into halftime and appearing to be on cruise control, Miami allowed Florida State to creep back in the game and found itself ahead just one point 66-65 in the last minute.

Seminoles freshman guard Dwayne Bacon brought the ball up with 25 seconds left. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton chose to play it out rather than use the team's final timeout.

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"We liked the situation. Bacon has already won two games for us this year (in the final seconds)," Hamilton said. "I think (his teammates) just crowded him a little too much, and we didn't get up the shot we wanted."

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With seven seconds left and nowhere to go, Bacon ended dishing to point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who dribbled it off his leg as it rolled into the corner. Fellow guard Devon Bookert picked it up and forced up a deep 3-pointer that missed with four seconds to go.

"It's hard to see when the clock is winding down (how much time is left to shoot)," said Bookert, who led the Seminoles with 14 points. "I thought it was better to get a shot off than not."

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Hurricanes guard Ja'Quan Newton got the rebound, and he made the first of two foul shots. Seminoles center Boris Bojanovsky got the rebound, but Florida State guard Malik Beasley missed a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

McClellan, the ACC's leader in field-goal percentage at 53.4 percent, made just four of 14 attempts from the floor. In the rivals' first meeting, he scored 21 points -- 20 of them in the second half. On Sunday, McClellan didn't wait to get going, as he scored the game's first points on a deep 3-pointer.

Hurricanes center Tonye Jekiri finished with eight points and nine rebounds, hitting two key foul shots with 2:26 to play.

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Florida State (16-9, 6-7) took its second loss in a row following an ugly defeat Thursday at Syracuse.

The Seminoles allowed the Orange to shoot 62 percent -- their worst defensive percentage in three seasons. That figure improved Sunday when the Hurricanes shot 38.2 percent from the floor, but it wasn't enough for Florida State.

In addition to Bookert's team-high total, Rathan-Mayes contributed 12 points, but no other Florida State player scored in double figures. Beasley, a dynamic freshman, was held to just nine points. It was the first time this season he failed to reach double-digits.

Beasley and Bacon -- the top-scoring freshman tandem on the nation at 33 points a game -- combined for just 15 points Sunday.

Guard Davon Reed added 14 points for Miami, and backcourt mate Angel Rodriguez rounded out the Hurricanes' double-digit scorers with 11 points. Forward Kamari Murphy tied for the team high with nine boards in the win.

"We understand there are a lot of close games in the ACC because all the teams are so talented," Larranaga said. "And we knew Florida State would make a run, we just needed to be able to sustain it. And we did."

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With Bacon on the bench due to early foul trouble, Florida State's offense struggled in the first half. However, after the Seminoles erased an 11-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 50-50 with seven minutes remaining in the game, Miami went on a 13-6 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes and appeared to be closing the Seminoles out.

Beasley brought the Seminoles within 63-62 with a baseline drive and bucket, then forced an air-ball 3-pointer by McClellan. Bojanovsky subsequently was called for a loose-ball foul on Jekiri with one second remaining on the shot clock.

Jekiri made both shots to push Miami's lead to 65-62. A Newton foul shot with 59 seconds left made the lead four points, but Bacon sank a 3-pointer with 49 seconds to go.

A 3-point miss by Miami guard Davon Reed set up Florida State's final two chanes.

Bojanovsky finished with eight points, five blocks and five rebounds for the Seminoles. Miami outrebounded Florida State, 38-30.

Miami reached the 20-victory milestone for the fourth time in five seasons. The Seminoles still lead the all-time series 42-35.

Florida State plays host to Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Miami will host Virginia Tech on Wednesday.

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Hamilton said the Seminoles need to forget about the tough defeat quickly.

"There's a lot of hurt and disappointed guys in that locker room right now that feel we should've come away with a win," he said. "We're an inexperienced team that makes inexperienced mistakes, and we need to put it behind us and move on."

NOTES: Florida State's coaching staff wore bright green wristbands and pins on their jackets to show their support for the Coaching for Literacy Program, which raises awareness about literacy and local literacy programs. Florida State has joined forces with 17 other NCAA schools and the Washington Wizards as a partner for the program. ... Miami key reserve G Ivan Cruz Uceda missed his second consecutive game because of the flu ... Florida State C Michael Ojo (leg injury) was seen warming up fully with the team, but it appears he won't play this season and will seek a medical redshirt for a fifth season.

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