On their senior night, Florida State’s veteran team was able to pull through adversity in a game with big ACC implications. The winner of tonight’s game would secure a top-four finish in the regular season and be guaranteed a two-round bye in the ACC Tournament next week.
The two teams exchanged blows through the first two media timeouts. As usual, Tech was able to knock down some shots from outside the perimeter. This was what really allowed them to begin to pull away as the half progressed. The duo of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Ahmed Hill really provided a spark on the offensive end for the Hokies. Meanwhile, the Seminoles were unable to get much consistency in the paint or on the perimeter. With approximately five minutes remaining in the half, Tech would extend its lead to 14 and hold that for the rest of the half.
There were two big takeaways from the first half. First was the poor shooting by Florida State, who shoot 45% on the year but only shot around 27% in the first 20 minutes. In relation to those missed shots, the Hokies were all over the boards. They out-rebounded the Seminoles 21-13 although they statistically are 9th in rebounding margin, opposed to Florida State’s 4th place status in the ACC.
Also, to add to the entire emotions of senior night, the Seminoles had to be confident in their home court advantage. In the past three seasons, they only dropped three games at the Donald L. Tucker Center. That crowd would certainly play a factor in the second half.
Florida State jumped out of the gate at the beginning of the second period. Senior Phil Cofer and sophomore Mfioundo Kabengele were able to earn some gritty buckets to cut into the lead. By the first media timeout, Tech’s 14 point lead had been diminished to a 5 point margin.
Another pivotal part of switching the momentum was the absence of Kerry Blackshear Jr. for a lot of the second half. The redshirt junior, who was having a bit of a Florida homecoming, has really flourished since senior Justin Robinson has missed time for Tech, mainly due to his ability to stay out of foul trouble. Tonight he was not able to do that and was on the bench with four fouls with 12 minutes to go.
Kabengele was able to expose the lack of size on the court and this pushed Florida State into a lead of their own. Eventually Buzz Williams had to cave and place Blackshear back into the game and he registered his fifth foul with 2:46 remaining in regulation.
It looked like the Seminoles were going to be able to push this over the finish line until Ahmed Hill hit a tightly contested three with 13 seconds left to tie the game up at 61 and carry the game to overtime.
It only took two baskets from the field to secure the win for Florida State in the extra five minutes, a Phil Cofer layup and M.J. Walker three.
Down the stretch, it is safe to say Tech’s lack of roster depth, which was heightened by Blackshear’s foul trouble, was not enough to match the efficiency of the Seminoles at home.
With that victory, Florida State locked in their fourth place finish in the ACC, while Tech will only get a one round bye. The Hokies will wrap up their season at home on Friday against Miami and the Seminoles will go on the road Saturday to face Wake Forest.