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Florida State rallies to stun Miami

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Moments after Florida State’s thrilling 55-54 upset of No. 23 Miami on Sunday, Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton was asked about the fact that FSU is now 6-0 against the rest of the state this season.

“Wow … I didn’t even realize that,” he said, shaking his head before adding: “Of course, that won’t get us any bows — or get us in the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament — but thanks for reminding me.”

During a season in which FSU is barely above .500, Hamilton and Florida State will take any milestone they can get.

On the heels of their thrilling double-overtime win earlier this week against Wake Forest, Florida State (12-10 overall, 4-5 in the ACC) rode that momentum to its second straight victory Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center, despite falling behind by 16 points in the first half.

Seminoles center Kiel Turpin, who finished with 10 points, gave the Seminoles a one-point lead with just over a minute to play on a right-handed hook shot and the FSU defense forced a discombobulated final possession by Miami. Holding for the final shot, the Hurricanes’ offense all but botched their chance at a game winner, and guard Sheldon McClellan heaved up a desperation runner that skipped off the front of the rim as time expired.

The victory Sunday was FSU’s first win against a ranked opponent this season, as well as its first since December 2013 when it beat then-No. UMass. The win also kept the Seminoles unbeaten against Florida programs, with wins against Florida, Central Florida, South Florida, North Florida, Stetson and now Miami. Prior to Sunday, FSU hadn’t beaten rivals Florida and Miami in the same season since 2008-09.

Turpin, who also had a big left-handed hook shot that pulled FSU to within 49-45 with 10 minutes left in the game, said afterward he wanted the ball late and had no concerns trying the same shot from the other side of the floor with the game on the line.

“I felt more comfortable (from the right side),” Turpin said of his high-arching hook that kissed off the glass and proved to be the game-winner. “I felt very confident with my right hand — it’s my good hand, and I think I’m more consistent with it. Luckily, it went in.”

Coming off a head-scratching loss at home Wednesday by Hurricanes (14-7, 4-4) against ACC cellar-dweller Georgia Tech, Miami has now dropped two straight and is surely headed out of the Top 25 when the new poll is released Monday. That was the same story earlier this year when Miami ascended to No. 15, but then lost three of its next four games to drop back out.

McClellan led the Hurricanes with 13 points, but Miami shot just 6 of 19 from the floor in the second half, including 2 of 9 from 3-point range — a place the Hurricanes have shined all season. Guard Devon Reed was the Hurricanes’ only other double-figure scorer with 11 points, although he had nine of those by halftime and all but disappeared in the second half.

“You’ve got to give them credit. Their defense came out in the second half and made us miss shots,” said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, who added he noticed one major difference between the first and second halves. “To me, their guys just played harder. We had two turnovers to start the second half that led to dunks, and that really got them going.”

Cue guard Montay Brandon — the man responsible for those game-changing jams.

Behind 36-25 at intermission, Florida State stormed back behind Brandon, who finished with a game-high 18 points, including nine of the Seminoles’ first 11 points out of halftime during an 11-4 run that got FSU back in the game. In addition to Brandon’s momentum-swinging slams, he added a 3-pointer that all but erased Miami’s early lead.

Down big early, Brandon said nobody panicked. After all, just a few days ago, FSU trailed Wake Forest by 15 points before rallying for the win.

“Man, everyone had that look in their eyes, like, ‘Let’s do this,'” Brandon said. “One through 14, everybody on the team had that look. We knew we could come back.”

The Seminoles went ahead 53-32 with just over four minutes left in in

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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