Florida State was playing in their 7th Orange Bowl Classic, and looked to be relatively untested vs 2-8 Florida Atlantic. But things didn't work out so easily.
The game started with a 39 minute delay while the BB&T Center technicians worked on a broken stanchion. Less than five minutes into the game, it was clear the basket still wasn't safe for the players, and so the teams endured another long delay while it was fixed.
The delay didn't seem to bother FAU (shooting on the good basket) as they jumped out to a big first half lead. At one point they led 33-18. The Noles had a few good possessions to end the half, and went into the break down 35-24.
FSU made just 5-17 2s in the first half, and 0-5 3s. Meanwhile, things were going so well for FAU that they banked in a three, and made a couple wild layups high off the glass.
Florida State clearly came out more focused in the 2nd half (now shooting on the good basket). The Owls, however, weren't going to fold. They withstood FSU's first run, and then pushed the lead back 44-33 with less than 14 to play.
That's when Xavier Rathan-Mayes and the Killer Bs took over. For the final 35 points of the night, every point and assist went to XRM, Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley, and Devon Bookert. First, Dwayne Bacon made consecutive end-to-end driving layups, and then off of a Boris Bojanovsky block he turned a 3-on-2 break into a rhythm three for XRM. Just like that the deficit was just four.
After two quick timeouts, XRM made a free throw and another 3-pointer to tie the game.
Over the next six minutes there were three lead changes and three ties, and it left FSU trailing by three after the final media timeout.
Dwayne Bacon once again went to the rim, and made an old fashioned 3-pt play to tie it. On the following FAU possession, XRM stripped their point guard and now it was Malik Beasley's turn to give the Noles the lead.
One second later, Bacon stole the inbounds pass and FSU was up four. FAU got a 3, and FSU got a layup from XRM. Noles by three.
With one minute to play the Noles got the stop they needed, and the Owls elected not to foul. FSU ran a perfect possession which took 30 seconds off the clock and ended with another XRM layup.
At that point we could all breathe again, as the Noles had averted disaster.
FSU won 64-59, and is now 8-2 on the season. The defense held FAU to just 24 2nd half points in 33 possessions.
Jarquez Smith was injured in the 2nd half when he took an unintentional shoulder to the chin. He had to be helped off the floor and was wobbly.
Dwayne Bacon led all scorers with 23 points (on just 15 shots) and added four steals. XRM had 12 points, four assists, and three steals. Malik Beasley had his 2nd consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Boris Bojanovsky had seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Noles now face the quickest possible turnaround, as they have to head back to Tallahassee for a 2PM tip on Monday.