Florida State basketball had a quick turnaround after recently concluding one of their worst regular seasons in programs. The Seminoles finished the season with a 9-22 record, heading into the ACC tournament as the No. 12 seed in the conference. They faced off against the red-hot Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who had won their previous three games. Georgia Tech extended that streak after a 61-60 victory over the Seminoles.
Player of the game: Freshman Cameron Corhen finished the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds, serving as the Noles most consistent contributor.
The Seminoles completed their daily tradition of letting the opposing team knock down their first and second three-point attempts. Florida State has started a majority of its games this season on the deficit side and it was the same case in this matchup.
Florida State took their first lead with just under 16 minutes remaining in the first half, up 7-6 after a Jalen Warley steal. Georgia Tech star Miles Kelly was moved to the bench during that span after picking up two quick fouls, which was massive for the Noles since he serves as the Yellow Jackets' primary scorer.
Darin Green Jr. punched in the Seminoles’ first three-pointer of the game at the 14-minute mark. Florida State rode an 8-0 run as GT went on nearly a seven-minute scoring drought. They were successful from beyond the arc yet again, having trouble getting into the painted area with a lengthy lineup including Chandler Jackson, Baba Miller, and Naheem McLeod.
FSU’s Matthew Cleveland was helped off the court after an apparent ankle injury at the halfway point of the first. Cleveland seemed to be in immense pain, so his chances to get back on the court were looking slim.
The Noles led 19-12 with the help of Miller and Chandler on both ends of the floor. Tom House made a surprise appearance with under six minutes remaining. Head coach Leonard Hamilton was looking for energy and effort, extending his usual rotation with a 23-14 lead.
A fast-paced first half would usually benefit a smaller lineup like the one the Yellow Jackets garner, but shots just weren’t falling for GT. The team from Atlanta was shooting 21% from three and 25% from the field with four minutes left in the half.
De’Ante Green got his number called after Miller headed back to the locker room with an ankle injury of his own. The Seminoles were down two solid contributors, having to play 10 different players in the first half. With 1:15 left in the half, FSU held a 29-18 lead.
Miller walked back to the Noles bench, but a hefty lead would keep him on the sideline till the second half. Florida State went into the half up 31-21. This was one of the biggest first-half leads the Seminoles had the entire season, largely having to do with phenomenal defense.
Cleveland started the second half for the Noles. He was a bit shaky in terms of movement, but he didn’t carry much of the responsibility on either end of the floor. Cameron Corhen sat down after picking up his third foul of the game early in the second half. Corhen had a tremendous first half with six points and eight rebounds.
The beginning of the second half turned into a three-point challenge with GT finding the bottom of the net and FSU finding three straight buckets from downtown. With 15:51 left in the contest, Florida State led 40-29.
GT’s Kelly scored seven points just a couple of minutes into the second half, catching fire for the Yellow Jackets. He cut the deficit down to 40-34 on his own, having immense confidence on the offensive end. Javon Franklin joined his triumph, scoring a couple of emphatic dunks. Franklin had seven points and 14 rebounds with 10 minutes remaining.
FSU was shooting 0-7 from the field on a treacherous five-minute scoring drought. Cleveland was able to put the ball in the basket for the first time in a while for the Noles, but the momentum was heavily in the Yellow Jackets' favor.
Georgia Tech was inching away at the Seminoles' lead, down just 47-43 with 7:45 left in the game. The Yellow Jackets tied the game at 53 with 3:38 remaining. It seemed like all the effort and hunger transferred from the Noles straight to GT, and Georgia Tech wasn’t going to look back. They had their foot on the gas for the majority of the second half and FSU was caught by surprise.
The Yellow Jackets were playing a 1-3-1 zone defense, giving the Noles trouble in finding quality looks. With the momentum being on Georgia Tech’s side, the whistles were broken for the garnet and gold. They couldn’t find any luck on the offensive end, and GT gained their first lead since the score was 6-2, with 0.2 seconds remaining. At this point, it was virtually impossible for the Seminoles to come out on top.
According to DrafKings, the Seminoles had a mere +15000 odds to win the ACC tournament, with Georgia Tech carrying +35000 odds. Florida State’s season came to an abrupt halt as the No. 12 seed on the DraftKings leaderboard.