Lykes struggles, Miami loses to Florida State

Hurricanes guard DJ Vasiljevic drives to the basket against Florida State on Jan. 27 at the Watsco Center. Vasiljevic notched 12 points in the UM's 78-66 defeat to FSU. Photo by Josh Halper.

Hurricanes guard Chris Lykes has been one of the few bright spots during a season to forget for Miami.

But on Sunday evening, the 5-foot-7 guard stumbled.

Lykes, who had been averaging 22 points in conference games, shot 0-for-12 and scored just one point as the Hurricanes fell 78-66 to the Seminoles at the Watsco Center.

“I can’t explain it right now,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said of Lykes’ recent play. “He’s had two back-to-back games that…in the Syracuse game, I think the size bothered him and tonight, I think he missed some wide-open looks early and I think he got a little discouraged from that.”

With the loss, Miami (9-10, 1-6 ACC) dropped its third consecutive game, and six of its last seven, and fell below .500 for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

Florida State (15-5, 3-4 ACC) scored just 13 seconds into the game and never gave the lead back.

FSU guard M.J. Walker scored a season-high 22 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers to lead three Seminoles in double-figures. Mfiondu Kabengele notched 17 points and six rebounds while Terrance Mann tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“We had a hard time defending their big guys,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “[Christ] Koumadje got them off to a great start and then Kabengele is really tough inside. We tried to help out inside and tried to take away some of the opportunities in the paint. That opened it up for the 3-point shot and they made them. We didn’t. That was the difference in the game.”

Florida State nailed 12-of-20 3-pointers and shot 56 percent overall.

“I thought Miami had our attention,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Jim’s doing one of the best jobs in our league because he’s had, obviously, without two big 6-11 kids, and their whole team becomes different. They have four kids that shoot really well. Of the five games they lost, four of them they were ahead late second half, including against us. We knew if we didn’t play with a lot of focus, something bad could happen. Our energy was a reflection of the respect we have for their team.”

The Seminoles opened the game on a 7-0 run, but ultimately separated themselves from the Hurricanes with a 15-1 run to close out the first half, hitting five of its last six field goals.

“I could see us, I thought emotionally…our head went down, and we took a couple of quick shots that lead to easy baskets,” Larrañaga said. “That was probably too much for us to overcome.”

Miami junior forward Dewan Hernandez’s absence continued to plague the Hurricanes. Miami shot 42 percent from the field and just 24 percent from beyond the arc.

“Florida State is a very big team, just like Syracuse,” senior Anthony Lawrence II said. “They’re one of the biggest teams in the ACC. They packed it in the paint all game.”

Redshirt senior Zach Johnson was a bright spot, leading Miami with 20 points. Sam Waardenburg contributed 13 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field, one point shy of his career best.

DJ Vasiljevic added 12 points, despite a rough 1-for-8 shooting night from distance. Lawrence chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.

Miami will look to stop its ongoing skid when the Hurricanes host the 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies Wednesday evening at the Watsco Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.