To simply say that Michael Snaer did it again would perhaps do a disservice to Florida State's junior guard.
Thursday against Virginia Tech, Snaer took another turn in the hero's spotlight for the Seminoles, knocking down a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds to play that erased a 15-point second-half deficit and gave FSU a 48-47 victory over the Hokies that was as astounding as it was improbable.
“I got a good look at it,” Snaer said. “I don't know how, but I got a good look at it.”
Aided by woeful Virginia Tech free throw shooting – the Hokies missed seven of their last eight from the line and finished 4-for-11 for the game – Florida State came back from nine points down with 89 seconds left in the game.
The Hokies' 74.6 free throw percentage entering the game was the best in the ACC.
“It's real simple – you step up, make free throws, the game's over. End of discussion,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.”
Snaer's shot – his only successful 3-point attempt of the game – occurred less than a month after he knocked down another big, a game-winning 3 at the buzzer to knock off the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Thursday's winner probably won't get as much air-time on SportsCenter, but it arguably meant so much more to Florida State's season – and to its still very-much alive hopes of winning the ACC regular season title.
This was one that the Seminoles, of course, had to have. A miss at Duke would have meant overtime. A miss tonight would have sent FSU spiraling into its second loss to a team near the bottom of the ACC standings in three games.
Snaer's three pointer erased a 15-point deficit. (Photo: Travis Register)
Instead, the Seminoles will still be in first place by the time they play Saturday at North Carolina State.
“When you're going through a season, you have games like this,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Hopefully this will be a wake-up call without a loss. Obviously, the Saturday game with the short turnaround might could be considered like a bounce-back game because we sure did not play with the execution and focus we would have liked to have tonight.”
Snaer's shot came at the end of one of the worst halves of basketball that FSU (18-7, 9-2 ACC) has played in a while. After taking a 25-23 lead into the break, the Seminoles allowed the fledgling Hokies (14-12, 3-8) a 17-0 run to begin the second half and trailed by 15 with 14:09 to play.
It took more than six minutes for Florida State to score its first points of the half.
But after building up a sizable advantage, the Hokies' shots went cold while Florida State's defense began to tighten.
After making six quick baskets to start the second half, Virginia Tech made just two more over the final 14-plus minutes of the game.
Meanwhile, Florida State began the long process of erasing the deficit. An offensive rebound and dunk by Xavier Gibson got the Seminoles to within double-digits and woke up the crowd of 10,123 at the Civic Center. Jeff Peterson, Snaer and Ian Miller all scored to cut Virginia Tech's lead to five with 5:33 to go.
But even with FSU's effort, a pair of free throws from Jarell Eddie with 1:29 to go gave the Hokies a nine-point and gave a grim outlook for the Seminoles
Instead, with less than 70 seconds to go, FSU's shooters finally heated up and – more importantly – Virginia Tech's free throw shooting failed in a huge way.
“We never gave up at all. With them missing some of those free throws it gave us a little more hope,” Peterson said. “We were able to stay on top of things and finish it off at the end."
It began with a Peterson 3-pointer that made it 46-40, then two missed free throw attempts by Tech's Dorenzo Hudson.
Okaro White's layup made it a four-point game. Jarell then made one of his two attempts.
On FSU's next trip down the floor, Miller hit his third 3-pointer of the night, cutting the Hokies' lead to 47-45 with 45 seconds to go.
Tech's Robert Brown made his way to the line with a chance to effectively end the game or at least ensure overtime. Instead, he missed both attempts, setting up Snaer's theatrics.
Peterson grabbed the rebound and drove toward the basket, searching at first for a layup or a foul. Instead, the Hokies closed off those avenues but didn't account for Snaer standing wide open at the right elbow of the key.
Snaer credited Peterson with keeping his composure, adjusting his plan and finding the open man.
Head coach Leonard Hamilton hopes this win serves as a wake-up call for the remainder of the season. (Photo: Travis Register)
“It's very difficult, when you're coming down the court, there's so many decisions, things are just happening, the defense is shifting,” he said. “It's changing constantly as you're dribbling … he just got into the heart of the defense and did what the coaches told him to do, and I was right there ready to knock down the shot.”
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