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FSU coughs up a 17 point second half lead, falls to UGA in the final seconds

Bummer.

De’Ante Green drops in disappointment after FSU’s collapse against Georgia.
Peyton Baker

Florida State and Georgia played a sloppy game of basketball for much of the late night tip off, but it was UGA coming back from 17 points in the second half to win 68-66 on a last second jumper. FSU falls to 4-2 on the season with the loss.

First Half:

The Bulldogs opened the game on a quick 5-0 run, the Seminoles responded with an 11-0 spurt fueled by a trio of triples, one each by Jamir Watkins, Darin Green, Jr., and Baba Miller. It was technically a 13-0 run, but the final two points came nearly four minutes later, as both teams went through a dry spell full of turnovers and missed shots.

Florida State continued its trend of turning opponents over in the early going, forcing UGA to cough it up on 38.5% of their possessions in the first nine minutes. However, not a single one of them was a live-ball turnover, allowing Georgia to set their defense after all of them. And FSU’s half-court sets left a lot to be desired. Unable to get downhill toward the rim, the Seminoles settled for an array of mid-range jumpers. The few times FSU did get to the rim, balls rolled around and off. So despite holding the Bulldogs to just two points between the 16:44 and the 9:59 mark, FSU’s lead was only 13-7.

Not much would change over the next three minutes. Watkins hit a pair of free throws, while UGA made a corner three, their first field goal in over 10 minutes. FSU continued to generate stops, but they were unable to get any kind of transition game going. Meanwhile, Seminole shooters decided to try even longer jump shots, missing three consecutive attempts from the perimeter.

As one might expect, the Bulldogs’ dry spell did not last forever. A couple of point blank buckets at the rim and a free throw gave Georgia their second 5-0 run of the game and just like that Florida State’s lead was down to two at 19-17.

Taylor Bol Bowen finally ended the mini-run when he executed a nice jump-stop in the lane and got a friendly roll on a one-handed push shot. From there the two teams played a little back and forth basketball over the final two and half minutes. The Bulldogs cut it to 23-21 on a steal and dunk by RJ Melendez, but a Green, Jr. runner in the lane with 61 seconds left gave us our halftime score of 25-21.

After opening the game with 3-3 shooting from deep, the Seminoles missed their next 11 three pointers over the final 16:44. For the half, the ‘Noles shot just 9-34 from the field and somehow still led for more than 17 minutes. That’s in large part due to UGA turning the ball over on 23.3% of their possessions and shooting 2-9 from deep.

Honestly, it was hard to tell whether FSU should have been up 12 or down 10. One interesting note from the opening stanza: Coach Hamilton played Watkins multiple minutes after he picked up his second foul.

Second Half:

UGA opened the second half the same way they began the game; with a made three. The Seminoles countered with a three from Miller, but UGA came right back with a coast-to-coast and-1 layup off a made basket.

Then things got salty. De’Ante Green established nice position and grabbed an offensive rebound, only to have 7’0 275 pound Russel Tchewa bear hug him, put him in a headlock, and then body slam Green to the ground. Both coaching staffs did a heck of a job preventing a real bruhaha, especially given the crowd’s reaction with a good number of Georgia fans present. Ultimately, Tchewa was assessed a flagrant and ejected from the game.

Unfortunately, FSU only made 1 of the 2 flagrant foul shots and promptly turned it over on their ensuing possession. The ‘Noles did manage to stretch the lead to 35-27 following a couple of close range baskets and two Chandler Jackson free throws, but the sloppy play continued and UGA went on a 10-2 run over the next 3.5 minutes to tie it up at 37-all. It probably should have been the Bulldogs leading, but they missed several free throws during that stretch.

Having lost their lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, FSU finally responded. Back-to-back threes by Green, Jr. and Miller, both assisted by Jalen Warley, pushed the lead right back out to six points at the under-12 media timeout. It was Miller’s third three of the game.

UGA got a dunk on a nice drive by Melendez to cut the lead to 45-41 at the 10:17 mark, but Green responded with an and-1 bucket just 15 seconds later. Green followed it up with two more free throws, and then Cam’Ron Fletcher had a loose ball fall into his arms that resulted in a layup. Finally, FSU had some breathing room.

The lead would grow to 61-44 thanks to back-to-back bombs from Green, Jr., the second of which coming in transition after the Seminoles grabbed a rare steal.

But Florida State simply could not string together enough good possessions to maintain the comfortable lead. Careless turnovers and missed shots from the field and charity stripe provided UGA with easy opportunities to score in transition. And after missing their freebies for much of the night, the Bulldogs finally getting some to drop. The result was a 14-2 run for the visitors over a 3.5 minute stretch and FSU’s margin shrunk to just 63-58.

After the under-4 media timeout, the UGA run continued with an and-1 basket over Warley and the lead now stood at just 2. That was followed by the second questionable call in a row, this time a charge on FSU and UGA got the ball back with a chance to take the lead. And take it they did, on a three-ball from the top of the key, as a stunned crowd fell silent having watched a 17 point lead evaporate in 5 minutes.

Watkins attacked the lane for FSU’s first good look in ages, and though it rolled off the rim, Green was there for the offensive rebound put back, regaining the lead for the Seminoles at 65-64 with 2:07 left.

The teams traded empty possessions before FSU appeared to grab a defensive rebound after a wild UGA shot. However, a late whistle on Watkins—his 5th—sent Georgia to the lane for two. The first bounced high off the rim and dropped and the second one splashed through, making it 66-65 UGA.

The ‘Noles attacked again out of the timeout, this time it was Jackson getting downhill to the rim. Like Watkins, his shot missed as he tumbled to the ground after body contact, but Green was once again there for the offensive board. This time he was fouled and he split a pair of free throws to tie it up at 66.

But the news was bad for the home team. UGA got an iso set up for Justin Hill and the senior buried an off the dribble jumper from 17 feet for the win. UGA finished the game on an 18-3 run over the final 5:22 of the game, an utter collapse by the Seminoles.

Box Score and Takeaways:

  • Darin Green, Jr. led all scorers with 21, but it took his 16 shots to get ‘em. For much of the game, when both teams were struggling to get anything going for long stretches, it was Green, Jr. who often gave FSU a bucket right when it was needed to keep UGA at an arm’s length. However, UGA found a way to take him out of the game over the final 7-8 minutes and he missed an open three from the corner with 1:09 left that would have FSU a four point lead.
  • FSU made their first three threes, missed their next 12, then made their next 5. It’s a game of runs!
  • Tonight was a good lesson in the fact that not all takeaways are created equal. Florida State is not going to impress you with its half-court offense this season. The Seminoles thrive in transition, running off of live ball turnovers and missed shots. Dead ball turnovers, while better than a made basket, don’t allow you to push the pace at all. If FSU isn’t pushing pace, it’s going to be a struggle.
  • De’Ante Green is really starting to look more confident. Some of it has to be health-related. Even in the exhibition games this year the sophomore from Asheville still looked like he was barely 60 or 70% on his rehabilitated knee (or perhaps he only 60-70% mentally trusted it). But the last few games he’s starting to show signs of becoming the garbage man that every good team needs. He’s consistently in position on the offensive glass and he is usually patient when he gets the ball in deep. He’s also making his free throws at a nice clip, which is huge for a guy who’s around a lot of scramble ball situations.
  • FSU lost a game in which it led for 35 minutes and 54 seconds, including being up by 17 with less than 8 minutes to play. Ouch. That is a complete collapse. FSU didn’t have great NCAA Tourney chances as it is, but losing games at home in this fashion is a way to ensure that your season ends in early March. Rogner and I agreed there would be one more loss in the out-of-conference portion of the season, but this sure is a brutal way to accomplish it.

Up Next:

FSU follows the football team up to Tobacco Road for an early season conference road trip against the 17th ranked North Carolina Tar Hells in the Dean Dome. Needless to say, they’ll have to be much better than they were against the Bulldogs to have any kind of chance at victory.