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Noles take 3rd straight must-win game

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The bubble has been uncharacteristically strong of late, with marginal NCAAT teams winning every game and top-4 seeds falling like the Sierra Nevada Nooner I dropped onto my garage floor just seconds before tip tonight (I guess I'll have to break one before the Syracuse game as well). This meant that FSU's win vs Georgia Tech didn't gain them any ground, and a win tonight vs Boston College was an absolute must.

BC, as noted in the preview, is a remarkably high variance team due to their unorthodox approach on offense which is essentially to shoot as many 3-pointers as possible. Steve Donahue recruits to be able to shoot from at least four positions (his good Cornell clubs could shoot from all five), and he builds his offense around high ball screens to free shooters. Once the defense begins over-committing, then he kills you with backdoor cuts.

Tonight their offense worked to perfection, at least for the first 33+ minutes. They took 50 shots and half of them were 3s. Their 3-pt success rate hovered around 50% all night, and once they made their 11th (in 22 attempts) they took a 60-55 lead with seven minutes left. Ian Miller would leave the game shortly thereafter, and though there has been no confirmation yet, it appeared that he was battling an illness.

So the Noles were down five and playing without their best player in a must-win situation. Luckily, this was a night for Aaron Thomas and Okaro White. They scored the next nine points for FSU, and the Noles took a one point lead on an Aaron Thomas buzzer beating, contested 18-footer, followed by a beautiful dump down from Boris Bojanovsky to Okaro White. After a BC turnover Devon Bookert bailed the Noles out of a bad possession by driving late and putting up a mid-range jumper. He missed, but fought for his own rebound. He made one of two and the Noles were up two with 24 seconds left. BC then derped the inbounds pass, and turned the ball over. At this point a clearly haggard Ian Miller was inserted back into the game. He collected the inbounds pass, was fouled, and had a chance to ice it. But he missed free throw attempt No. 2. BC got two good looks from the arc on the other end, but the 3-pt lottery finally came up garnet and gold. Aaron Thomas and Bojo put the game away from the stripe. Noles win 74-70.

Aaron Thomas led all scorers with 26 and Okaro White added 24 (moving into 20th all time at FSU). Devon Bookert had 9 points, and Bojo added 8 including six in quick fashion when FSU was beginning to falter.

Now the Noles are 9-8 in ACC play, and have one game remaining vs Syracuse. A win and I really like FSU's chances. A loss and I think FSU will need to win two in the ACC tourney. But again, this is all dependent on what other bubble teams do.

The important thing is that FSU went to Boston and took care of business. Go Noles.