With FSU down 18 points a few minutes into the 2nd half, it looked like the Noles might get run out of the building. Nebraska's Shavon Shields was putting on a clinic. He and his teammates couldn't miss from long range, while FSU couldn't make 3s and they couldn't make free throws. Aaron Thomas was back, but he looked rusty and was taken the locker room three times. Devon Bookert was in street clothes. The only thing keeping the game from being embarrassing was the play of the Noles' three centers who were causing all sorts of problems for the Huskers.
But then FSU got it rolling. Nebraska's outside shot suddenly went cold, and FSU started running. Montay made a layup. XRM hit a three. Bojo scored a layup and then XRM knocked down two more shots. After a pair of free throws by Jarquez Smith, it was a four point game with ten minutes to play. The "crowd" at the Tuck, bless their hearts, made a lot of noise.
For the next eight minutes the two teams traded blows. That's when Aaron Thomas - for the first time all game - finally looked like himself. He out-hustled the Nebraska back court for a loose ball and turned it into a breakaway dunk. Then, with the ball back, he lowered his head and got to the line. It was a 1-point game with 2:18 to play.
Unfortunately, that's where the run ended. Nebraska made some shots and FSU couldn't catch up.
Of course, they never should have put themselves in that position. The Noles had dominated the game in the paint. They were the more aggressive team. Two Nebraska players fouled out and two more played most of the 2nd half with four fouls. But FSU couldn't make 3-pointers, With Devon Bookert watching in street clothes, FSU had stretches where they had difficulty penetrating Nebraska's closed in defense. And with the Huskers daring Florida State to shoot threes, FSU too often obliged. XRM made just 2-11 (!). AT missed all three of his attempts. The rest of the team combined for four more misses with no makes. FSU needs Devon Bookert back in a big way.
It was great to see the Noles with their trademark resilience, and XRM's play between bouts of freshmanitis was breathtaking, but a loss is a loss. Injuries don't matter. Moral victories don't matter. FSU needs to find a way to turn this season around.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes led FSU with 17 points and 6 assists, but took far too many unnecessary shots early in the clock. Aaron Thomas had 11. Boris Bojanovsky had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. The three centers combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds. There were lots of hopeful positives on the court against an elite defense.
Florida State now has the rest of the week off before hosting Central Florida on Saturday.