With 4:45 left in the game, FSU looked finished. Miami was in complete control of the game, having taken a 62-44 lead. FSU's defense was in shambles. They were switching everything, and Miami was working the mismatches to perfection. It was one of those nights and I was ready for the Noles to pack it in.
But, it turned out, Xavier Rathan-Mayes was just getting warmed up.
XRM, who had scored five points in the game, quietly made a three on the other end. Miami scored, and then XRM was fouled attempting another three and knocked all the freebies down. After a Canes free throw, XRM knocked down another three. Then another. Then he got to the rim for a layup. Then he made another three. Miami knew it was coming. They doubled him. They had 7-foot Tonye Jerkiri keep a hand in his face. But it didn't matter. He was in video game mode. Everyone in the stadium knew he was shooting. Their coach threw everything at him. Didn't matter. Onions.
Unfortunately, FSU was having to foul, and Miami was knocking down free throws.
Montay got a steal and fed XRM for the layup. Then XRM dropped another three. And another. He capped it off with a three pointer while getting fouled.
In the end XRM scored 26 points in 3 1/2 minutes. His scoring run stopped when he found Robbie Berwick for a three to cut the lead to three with 23 seconds left.
But Miami made their free throws, and in the end they were able to foul with two seconds left and a three point lead. XRM made the first and his intentional miss on the 2nd was grabbed by the Hurricanes.
Miami game, 81-77.
The historic finish still led to a loss, but it was impossible to watch without getting caught up in the moment. Was FSU going to lose? Most likely. Did it matter? Not really. We were witnessing something special on the basketball court, something rare. And it wasn't some random player on ESPN that we were watching because everyone told us to switch the channel, it was an FSU player, and a freshman at that. Sometime during that 26 point outburst XRM set the all time FSU scoring record for a freshman, which felt right. It's not the season we wanted, but it's been really interesting. When Aaron Thomas was ruled ineligible, we shifted into next-year mode, and when your freshmen pull stunts like this then next year looks a little brighter.
An experienced team. XRM back to run the point. A top-5 recruiting class....
XRM finished with 35 points and five assists. Montay Brandon was the other Nole in double figures with 11.
Now the Noles have some work to do if they don't want to finish below .500 in ACC play for the first time in seven years. Next up is No. 15 Louisville, on Saturday, at the Tuck.
Larranaga on XRM: "One of the greatest on-court performances I've ever seen...I've never seen that before in my college coaching career."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) February 26, 2015