There's a new basketball star in the ACC and he doesn't play on Tobacco Road.
While the eyes of the ACC were fixated on Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Duke-North Carolina matchup, the conference's most electric, emerging star, Miami's Shane Larkin, was busy taking matters into his own hands against the upset-minded Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee.
The result was a Miami 74-68 victory, as the Hurricanes remained undefeated and in sole possession of first place in the ACC. Larkin, a 5'11" sophomore, scored 13 of his 22 points in the final 7.5 minutes, enabling Miami (20-3, 11-0) to hold off the pesky Seminoles (13-11, 5-6).
With 13:05 left in the second half, Miami seemed in control, leading 51-39, before Florida State went on a 12-0 run, tying the game at 51. At the 7:59 mark, with Miami clinging to a two-point lead, Larkin took over with a dazzling display of speed and quickness, which the Seminoles couldn't answer.
Larkin, the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, has been the lightning rod for the Hurricanes improbable season. His performance against Florida State was coming off a nationally televised game against North Carolina where he scored 18 points (including five three-pointers) and had nine assists in Miami's 87-61 rout of the Tar Heels.
The No. 3 Hurricanes, who were unranked in the preseason, have now reeled off 12 straight victories, including a two-game sweep of North Carolina and a crushing 90-63 win over No. 2 Duke in Coral Gables.
The Hurricanes still have seven conference games remaining, including a rematch with Duke in Durham, before the ACC tournament. But, at this point in the season, they have more than earned their No. 3 ranking, the highest ever for the Miami basketball program.
The team's ability to sustain this current run will fall largely on Larkin's shoulders, who like his Hurricane teammates, has been flying under the radar for most of the season. However, with the approach of March Madness, Miami will no longer be a Cinderella, but rather a top seed with a rising star in its backcourt.
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