CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami overcame the loss of a top player and enhanced its NCAA tournament resume.
Durand Scott scored 17 points and the Hurricanes beat No. 15 Florida State 78-62 on Sunday night, snapping a six-game losing streak to the rival Seminoles.
Miami had lost 11 of 12 against Florida State, which made this victory particularly sweet.
"It's our rivalry game," Scott said. "To get a quality win like that, it's great. And I'm sure the rest of the team feels the same way."
Kenny Kadji added 15 points for the short-handed Hurricanes (17-10, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), who pulled into a tie with Virginia for fourth place in the conference standings.
Miami played without starting center Reggie Johnson, declared ineligible by the school an hour before the game after an investigation revealed members of his family had received benefits not allowed under NCAA rules. According to a statement released by the university, "Johnson was unaware of the benefits and his family was told they were permissible by a member of the former basketball coaching staff."
Miami is seeking a quick resolution from the NCAA in an attempt to reinstate Johnson, who is averaging 10.6 points per game.
"It's my understanding that Reggie and his family didn't know of any impermissible benefit," coach Jim Larranaga said. "It was somebody else."
The Hurricanes used Johnson's absence as motivation.
"Just because one person goes down, you just can't quit," Scott said. "I'm pretty sure he wanted us to step up and do the things necessary that Coach wants us to win basketball games."
Michael Snaer scored 20 points to lead third-place Florida State (19-9, 10-4).
The Seminoles rallied from a 59-42 deficit with 5:07 remaining and got within 65-58 on Snaer's two free throws with 2:39 left.
"We just tried to put everything on the line and try to claw our way back," Snaer said. "They knew we were going to come back with that type of firepower and aggressiveness on defense."
Scott, Kadji and Shane Larkin each hit two free throws in the next 58 seconds as Miami increased the lead to 71-58. Larkin finished with 13 points.
The Hurricanes expanded a four-point halftime lead and outscored the Seminoles 14-8 in the first 5:15 of the second half. Rion Brown hit the fourth 3-pointer in Miami's early second-half spurt to increase the lead to 38-28.
"We really finished the half strong," Larranaga said.
Snaer's three-point play with 10:48 left cut it to 44-35 before the Hurricanes responded with consecutive 3-pointers from Trey McKinney Jones and Malcolm Grant.
Miami shot 7 of 13 from beyond the arc in the second half.
"I thought in the second half, they got their momentum going with their 3s," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "That kind of gave them confidence and we couldn't get anything going offensively."
The Hurricanes rallied from an eight-point deficit and took the lead for good with a 13-2 run in the final 4:34 of the first half. Scott scored seven points during the surge and his layup with 22 seconds remaining gave the Hurricanes a 24-20 lead at halftime.
Okaro White scored four points during an 8-0 run for the Seminoles midway through the first half. White's basket with 5:37 remaining capped the spurt and gave Florida State an 18-11 lead.
Miami was held scoreless for a 7:03 stretch until Scott made the second of two free throw attempts with 4:34 left to cut the Seminoles' lead to 18-12.