For the second time this week, No. 9 FSU (16-2, 6-1) found a way to win by four despite not having their best stuff, this time going on the road to defeat rival Miami (10-7, 2-5) in overtime by the score of 83-79. The win assures Florida State will remain tied for first place in the ACC with the winner of the Duke/Louisville game.
We’ve all seen ugly basketball. Anyone who watched some of the FSU slug-fests from circa 2010 knows what I’m talking about. But leave it to the 2020 version of the ACC to say “Hold my beer.” The first half of play in what was supposedly a “basketball game” between FSU and Miami featured about every kind of ugly you can dream up.
Miami’s opening possession featured a timeout being taken to avoid a turnover and a shot clock violation four seconds later. How’s that for a bad start? 90 seconds later, M.J. Walker picked up his second foul and—stop me if you’ve heard his before—Coach Hamilton refused to play him the rest of the half.
Believe it or not, things only went downhill from there.
You want turnovers? The teams combined for 20. Missed layups? Buckets full of them. Missed dunk in transition? Miami checked that one of the BINGO card. Banked in threes from the corner? Both teams marked off that square. Charges, slipping and falling down with the ball, dribbling off your shoe, losing a shoe, missing both ends of a two shot foul, airballs, and threes off the top of the backboard all made an appearance as well. Oh and FSU had seven fouls in the first seven and half minutes.
There were, in fact, points scored. Some threes made, one even by Wyatt Wilkes (who played nine minutes thanks to Hamilton not playing Patrick Williams and Raiquan Gray due to, you guessed it, foul trouble).
Devin Vassell largely kept FSU in it with 10 first half points, tied with Miami’s Chris Lykes for the game high. In fact, it was five straight from Vassell in a short spurt that tied the game up at 19 apiece. But for large stretches it felt like Drew Carey was the host and the points didn’t really matter.
Despite all that, Trent Forrest banked in (on purpose) a contested runner in the lane as time expired and FSU somehow went into the locker room leading 31-30.
Unfortunately, the second half only got marginally better.
Walker, fresh from his first half siesta, appeared to jump start things with a three ball to open the second stanza. But after that play returned to herky-jerky, stop and go sloppiness from the opening twenty minutes. The officials seemed intent on calling the slightest bit of contact on rebounds and loose balls, but allowing no guys to get hip-checked on drives to the basket (unless your last name is Gray). Basically, the opposite of how the sport should be officiated.
The Hurricanes opened up a four point lead after a Seminole pass directly to a Miami player who was able to complete a transition dunk this time. However, FSU grabbed the lead right back at 47-46 with a another deep three from Walker and a lay-up from Polite off the subsequent Hurricanes in-bounds pass that was thrown directly to him.
Miami then took a two point lead after a lackadaisical Vassell was stripped at half court for an easy dunk. A three by Lykes pushed the ‘Canes lead out to 52-47 with 10 minutes to play. Miami then stretched its lead to six when FSU fouled three-point sniper DJ Vasiljevic.
FSU closed the gap to three after a Polite three, but a defensive breakdown on an in-bounds with two seconds left on the shot clock gave Lykes a wide-open three from the corner and the deficit jumped right back to six, 60-54, with under eight minutes to play. Then Vasiljevic scored five quick points with a three off an offensive rebound and a layup in transition, and suddenly the Miami lead was 65-56.
But the Seminoles wouldn’t quit. Walker hit three free throws and then a big corner three to pull FSU within three, followed by a steal and dunk by Anthony Polite that cut the lead to 68-67. After a floater in the lane by Lykes extended it back out to three, the teams exchanged poor decisions and turnovers—one on a play where Forrest was hip-checked nearly out of bounds by a Miami defender with no foul called—Walker hit yet another corner three to tie the game up at 69-69 with less than a minute left.
The final 30 seconds of regulation (spoiler alert) saw a terrible blocking foul on FSU correctly overturned to a charge violation, giving Forrest a chance to finish the second half the same way he did the first. However, his 16-footer clanked off the rim and the two teams headed to overtime.
In OT, Walker again got FSU started with a long jumper inches away from being a three, but Miami immediately tied it up at 71-71. The teams then traded empty possessions before Malik Osborne gave FSU on a sweet and-one in the lane. Two free throws by Forrest extended FSU’s lead to five, but a deep bomb by Lykes cut it right back to two.
Vassell then, just as he did against UVA on Wednesday, buried a three in rhythm to give FSU a five point advantage again, but an even deeper three from Lykes cut the lead to two yet again. FSU then broke a press with a heads up play from Walker leading to a Forrest dunk, but Miami made a layup at the other end to again create a two point deficit.
Finally, and for the second time this week, Vassell sank two free throws with six seconds left to seal the victory.
Walker was the star of the game for FSU, scoring all of his 19 points after halftime, including several massive long range shots late in regulation and to begin overtime. He finished the game with just three fouls. Vassell, really the only guy who played well for FSU in the first half, finished with a career high 23 points and a career high 11 rebounds, to give him his first double-double wearing garnet and gold.
Lykes led all scorers with 24, but he was 0-3 from the free throw line and those misses proved costly. As a team, Miami shot 10-17 (58.8%) from the stripe, compared to 15-18 for the Seminoles.