The Hurricanes had the opportunity to solidify their postseason credentials when they went to North Carolina State fresh off an impressive double-digit win over Florida State, but they could not take advantage of their opportunity.
They struggled with their shots both inside and outside the perimeter, then couldn't make key plays down the stretch and dropped a 77-73 decision to the Wolfpack.
With the loss, the Hurricanes fell to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the ACC with their regular-season finale coming up against Boston College Saturday (March 3) in Coral Gables.
Though they have not been completely knocked off the NCAA bubble, it would seem they not only have to beat the Eagles but also win one or possibly two games in next week's ACC Tournament as well to shore up their shot for an at-large spot in the 68-team field.
As things stand after the loss the Wolfpack, Miami would be the No. 6 seed in the ACC tourney field and could have a quick rematch with BC in a first-round game.
The thing that really hurts in this latest loss is that it came to a team that is trying to make a case for its own NCAA bid. N.C. State is 19-11 overall, 8-7 in the ACC, and now has swept both meetings with the Hurricanes. The Wolfpack won 78-73 on Jan. 22 in Coral Gables.
Poor shooting doomed the Hurricanes in the rematch. They shot only 35.6 percent overall and 27.6 on three-pointers (8-of-29). N.C. State, meanwhile, hit half of its shots from the field.
"A lot of times, when you don't shoot well, you don't do as well defensively," coach Jim Larranaga said.
--Sophomore G Rion Brown came off the bench to lead Miami in scoring with 15 points in the loss to North Carolina State. He was 4-of-9 from the field overall and 3-of-6 on three-pointers. The 15 points matched his season high first recorded against Florida Atlantic and then against Appalachian State back in December.
--Senior G Malcolm Grant, who hadn't been in double figures since scoring 14 points in the Feb. 1 win over Maryland, scored 14 points against the Wolfpack. Though he forced -- and missed -- a three-pointer in the closing seconds with Miami down by three, he was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc for the game, his best performance there since Jan. 18 when he also was 4-of-7 in the win over Clemson. Grant was a combined 18-of-73 (24.7 percent) over the 11 previous games going to N.C. State.
BY THE NUMBERS: 48.9 -- Miami was 23-of-47 from the field against Florida State, just the fifth team to shoot better than 48 percent against the Seminoles this season. One more made field goal and the Hurricanes would have shot 51.1 percent, which would have been a season high against the 'Noles.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's like the others. I like winning." -- Coach Jim Larranaga, pressed to assess the significance of Miami's win over Florida State.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
--vs. Boston College, March 3
KEY MATCHUPS: The Hurricanes led by only three at the half when the two teams played on Jan. 29 but pulled away in the second half for a 76-54 victory. Freshman G Matt Humphrey was the only Eagle in double figures with 13 points. Freshman F Ryan Anderson has been coming on strong recently with 22 points against Maryland and 21 against Duke. He also had 18 rebounds in the two games, both losses.
STAR WATCH: Junior C Reggie Johnson, who had sat out the previous game against beat Florida State, started against North Carolina State but played only 18 minutes because of foul trouble and his struggles playing pressure defense. He scored 10 points and had eight rebounds in just 18 minutes. Miami declared Johnson ineligible when it was discovered the center's family had been given some impermissible benefits by a former assistant coach. The school appealed to have his eligibility restored immediately, and the NCAA did that with the condition that Johnson donate the amount of the benefits to charity and sit one game, which he already had when Miami played FSU. He is Miami's No. 4 scorer (10.6) and leading rebounder (7.0).
FUTURES MARKET: F Julian Gamble, who has not played since injuring his knee last summer, has been granted a sixth year of eligibility and return next season. Gamble started 13 games in 2010-11 and averaged 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. In his three-season career, Gamble has played in 93 games, averaging 3.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game.
--Junior G Durand Scott led Miami in scoring in the win over Florida State with 17 points. It was his fifth consecutive game in double figures after scoring just two points against Virginia Tech on Feb. 9.
--Junior F Kenny Kadji was in double figures for the 14th consecutive game with 15 points against the Seminoles.
--Freshman G Shane Larkin was 8-of-9 from the free throw line against FSU. It was his season-high in made free throws, topping his 7-of-7 performance against UNC-Greensboro on Jan. 2.
--Junior F DeQuan Jones didn't start and scored only six points, but came up with a key block in the first half with the Hurricanes down by two points that seemed to ignite a late surge that gave the Hurricanes a 24-20 halftime lead.