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Baseline Breakdown: FSU takes over down the stretch, beats Boston College

Senior Day sweetness.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Facing a near must-win situation, Florida State came back from an awful start to prevail over the Boston College Eagles 85-76. The Seminoles are now 13-3 under Coach Hamilton on Senior Day.

Above the Rim:

  • Perhaps it was the emotions, but FSU got off to an awful start. Brandon Allen made a lazy pass on the first possession, leading to an easy steal and layup for BC. FSU followed that up with an offensive foul and some missed open shots, while BC drained back to back threes. Just like that, FSU dug a 10-2 hole with less than three minutes gone and Hamilton is forced to call a timeout. More than 7 minutes in, FSU was turning it over on 50% of their possessions.
  • But Terance Mann, PJ Savoy, and Mfiondu Kabengele came in and provided major sparks off the bench. Suddenly, the energy was back. Passing was crisp, the defense got their hands on passes, and shots started falling. FSU went on an 18-8 run from roughly the 16 minute mark to the under-8 timeout. Unfortunately, the Seminoles just could not stop turning the ball over. Florida State went to the locker room with a 26.8% first half turnover rate, many of which came on offensive fouls and travels. This helped BC take a 36-34 halftime lead, despite the Eagles turning it over on 25% of their own possessions.
  • The second half was much better for Florida State. While Boston College actually stretched the lead back out to 8 at 55-47, most of that was due to flaming hot three-point shooting by the Eagles. The Seminoles didn’t back down though, ratcheting up the defense and creating instant offense off of steals and blocked shots. Ultimately, FSU outscored BC 83-66 after the abysmal first 3 minutes.
  • I don’t normally mention the refs in post-game breakdowns, but there were several calls down the stretch that were quite frankly baffling. They stopped an FSU fast-break due to a live ball injury for a BC player who was off the court and out of the way from any danger. They called a flagrant 1 foul on Ike, despite it being a basketball move (blocked shot) and him trying to prevent himself from falling on another player. Then awarded BC the ball after going to the monitor to review a play that looked on replay out on the Eagles. And they called a foul on Angola while he was bumped mid-air shooting a three. All in all, the final 8 minutes of the game took nearly 50 minutes real time. If the NCAA wants to know why college basketball ratings have gone down, this is it. There is simply too much time being taken by officials who are bungling up the end of games and are woefully inconsistent on what they deem a foul.

But the thing is, it’s hard to blame the refs. They are part-time employees often asked to provide their own equipment and working to pick up as many games as they can before the season ends. The NCAA makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year off the men’s NCAA Tournament, which is far and away the largest money-maker annually for President Mark Emmert’s organization (Emmert makes nearly $2 million a year). It’s time to hire a full-time, professional staff of referees. Provide them training all-year round. Hold them accountable for their calls. And stop forcing fans to sit through mind-numbing reviews and calls that take away from the beauty and suspense of the sport.

  • FSU only led for a total of 7 minutes and 15 seconds of this game, but the Seminoles played fantastic defense down the stretch and led for the final 5:04. Trailing 69-64 with 8:03 left, their NCAA tournament hops flickering before their eyes, FSU went on a 21-7 run. That’s called closing out a game, and it’s a sign of a young team starting to mature.
  • With the win, Florida State finished at least .500 in ACC play for the eighth time in the last ten years (with the other two finishes being 8-10). In the previous 17 seasons, FSU finished .500 or above in league play three times, with two of those three coming in the first two years the Seminoles joined the ACC.

Court Level:

  • Trent Forrest was the perfect combination of aggressive and in control. And with the game, possibly the season, on the line Trent absolutely took over. He played hounding defense, registering 3 steals in the final 6 minutes, and pressuring BC guards into numerous other mistakes and missed shots. He came up huge on the boards, finishing with 6 second half rebounds. And he finished at the rim time and time again, while also making 8-10 from the free throw line after halftime. A true sophomore, Forrest has really blossomed over the second half of the season and FSU likely would not be in position to make the NCAA Tournament without his efforts. Trent was the KenPom MVP of the game for the third time in the last 8 games, with the other two times coming @Louisville and home against Clemson.
  • Terance Mann, coming off one his worst games in Garnet and Gold, came off the bench clicking on all cylinders and really kept FSU in the contest in the first half. Mann jump-started a struggling FSU offense with a corner 3 ball, just his 12th made three of the season. He was also much more active on defense than he was the previous two games, while simultaneously doing a great job of setting up teammates with several sensational passes. The junior took a back seat to Braian Angola and Forrest in the second half, but his play in the first half was instrumental in this win and hopefully a sign of things to come in the ACC Tournament.
  • Ike Obiagu again showed progress and promise. His awareness and timing on blocked shots is stunning. Simply stunning. The true freshman big man finished with 7 blocked shots, giving him 18 over the last three only 53 minutes on the court. His offense is a major work in progress, something he admitted several times after the game. But his rim protection is so special that Coach Hamilton has to be just giddy about this young man’s future. On top of his third straight block party, Ike also had a season high 12 rebounds. Do yourself a favor and listen to his interview below.
  • We need to get Braian Angola’s mom in the stands more often. Surprising her son on Senior Day, just the second time she’s seen him play basketball in person, Braian responded with his best game in weeks. He was a pest on defense, dished out 4 assists, and scored an efficient 21 points on just 10 shots. And for the first time in what seems like a month, Angola looked like he was playing with confidence and energy.
  • Phil Cofer didn’t make much of a dent in the box score, but he still had his fingerprints all over this win. Playing what’s possibly his final game in Tallahassee, the senior brought tremendous energy for the 21 minutes he was on the court. His transition defense in the second half was outstanding and his teammates fed off his energy and leadership. After the game, multiple players mentioned wanting to make sure Phil got a win on Senior Day.
  • PJ Savoy made three shots from behind the arc, all of them at critical moments to keep FSU in the game. That’s exactly what the Seminoles need from their long range bomber. Stretching the defense and opening up driving lanes for the slashers.

Post Game:

BC coach Jim Christian:

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton:

Senior Braian Angola:

Ike Obiagu:

Trent Forrest:

Looking Ahead:

With the regular season complete, FSU heads to the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn where they’ll face Louisville Wednesday at 12 noon. It’s possible that the Seminoles will be in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what they do in New York, but a win would all but lock things up.