Miami Hurricanes Basketball Game 21 Preview: Florida State Seminoles


Location: Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Florida

Time: 12:30 PM


The Miami Hurricanes basketball team suffered an ugly loss at the hands of Georgia Tech on Wednesday night. Miami (14-6, 4-3) heads up the road to Tallahassee to face the Florida State Seminoles (11-10, 3-5) on Sunday. Consecutive losses to lower tier ACC teams could seriously damage the Hurricanes’ NCAA Tournament chances, so this rivalry game has become even more crucial for Miami.

Florida State Scouting Report

FSU’s Aaron Thomas, an excellent scoring guard, was poised to lead this young basketball team to success in 2015, but the school ruled him ineligible last December due to an undisclosed matter. With the lack of experience on this Florida State basketball team, this season has turned into one of those developmental years. With a top-5 recruiting class on the way, FSU’s future is certainly a bright one. For now, though, the team is very beatable.

None of Florida State’s ACC victories really impress me, but they seem to have turned a corner. On January 17th, the Seminoles trailed NC State by 19 points early on. The ‘Noles battled back and tied it up late, but could not pull off the victory. In the 3 games since then, FSU has beaten Clemson, Wake Forest, and narrowly lost to #15 North Carolina. I think the team that Miami will face on Sunday is a tad bit better than its overall record suggests.

Turnovers and inefficiency from 3-point range have caused a lot of the Seminoles’ struggles. FSU averages 13.5 turnovers per game (245th in the country) and shoots 27.9% from deep (336th in the country).

Florida State features a trio of 7-footers at the center position: Michael Ojo, Boris Bojanovsky, and Kiel Turpin. Neither of them possesses much consistency on the offensive end, but each can hold their own defensively. Ojo, the starter, is the most physically intimidating. The junior big man from Nigeria stands at 7’1”, 290 pounds – and it’s a muscular 290.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes is the team’s best player. Rathan-Mayes joined FSU in 2013 as a highly touted freshman, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible due to an academic issue. After a year off, the 6’4” point guard has excelled. Rathan-Mayes uses his excellent explosiveness to drive past defenders and score near the hoop. He averages 14.2 points per game, including a 35-point performance against the Tar Heels. Despite only shooting 25% on 3-pointers this season, Rathan-Mayes chooses to shoot them on a regular basis. This could bode well for the Hurricanes.

Devon Bookert starts at shooting guard for the ‘Noles. Bookert is the team’s top threat from behind the 3-point line. He has connected on about 40% of his 3-point attempts this season, including multiple made 3’s in all but one of FSU’s ACC games.

Junior small forward Montay Brandon is one of the team’s leaders. At 6’7”, he’s an athletic wing player with solid defensive skills. He does not shoot many threes, but he can still score effectively, as evidenced by his 20-point performance against NC State.

Freshman power forward Phil Cofer has made an impact for FSU as a regular starter. The 6’8” Cofer defends his position well.


Miami: 68 – Florida State: 66

The level of play we saw from Miami in the upset loss to Georgia Tech is more an anomaly than the regular. I expect Angel Rodriguez to shoot better than 0-8 and Omar Sherman to shoot better than 0-5.

Florida State, similar to Georgia Tech, generally struggles to make 3-pointers. I think this may cause Miami to switch to a zone defense for at least part of this game. It worked briefly against Georgia Tech, but Coach L switched back to a man defense in order to speed the tempo up.

The matchup between Rathan-Mayes and Rodriguez should be a good one. Rodriguez seemingly steps up his game against better opponents, especially on the road. FSU is not known for having great home court advantages, but the rivalry element should bring more of an exciting energy to the arena.

I’m curious to see if Deandre Burnett takes Ja’Quan Newton’s minutes back in this game. Burnett played for the first time in a while against Georgia Tech and could provide a good spark off of the bench.

This matchup always garners more attention on the football field, but I think this game will be an exciting one because of what is on the line. The Seminoles have finished at least .500 in ACC play each season since 2009, and they’ll have to fight to reach that mark in 2015. In Miami’s case, the ‘Canes are searching for a NCAA Tournament berth and another bad loss will cost them in the long run.