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No. 17 Florida State outlasts Wake Forest, earning an overtime win over the visitors from Tobacco Road

FSU continues its OT dominance.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

It ended up taking five extra minutes, but ultimately the Seminoles of Florida State were triumphant in their return to the court following a two-week layoff. Wake Forest overcame a 13-point second half deficit to take a late lead, but Scottie Barnes’ buzzer-beating layup sent it into OT and FSU pulled away from there for the 92-85 victory. The win brings the 17th ranked Seminoles to 11-3 on the season, 7-2 in ACC play. The overtime win is FSU’s 11th straight win in an OT game, tying the Division I record for most consecutive OT wins.

M.J. Walker and Wyatt Wilkes popped back to back threes to open the game to give FSU six quick points. However, the Seminoles weren’t the only ones to come out firing. Both teams did a nice job early of moving the basketball and knocking down shots, treating the fans to some exciting up and down action.

Perhaps sensing the early tempo, Anthony Polite, Scottie Barnes, and Tanor Ngom all subbed into play with less than three minutes gone. Polite, lacing them up for the first time in nearly a month after dealing with a shoulder injury, wasted little time burying his favorite shot—a three ball, corner pocket. This was the first of four consecutive made threes by both teams and the Demon Deacons held a 17-16 lead at the first media timeout.

RaiQuan Gray scored four straight inside and FSU appeared to be in position to become the first team of the game to stretch the lead out to two possessions. Unfortunately, a missed basket and long rebound for Wake led to an open three on the other end, the visitors’ 5th make from beyond the arc in the opening seven and a half minutes.

Both teams cooled off from their blistering starts over the next eight minutes, turning what was a free-flowing, aesthetically pleasing game into something closer to a rock fight. This stretch of basketball featured missed free throws, sloppy passing, several travel calls, multiple blocked shots, a half dozen fouls, and a few made baskets here and there. When the dust settled, FSU led 33-29 at the 3:50 mark, buoyed by a quick 7-0 run over the 90 seconds leading up to the media timeout.

When the action returned, Polite and Gray pushed the FSU run out to 11-0, prompting Steve Forbes to call his own timeout just 50 seconds later. The timeout was mildly effective, briefly stifling momentum. But a brilliant individual defensive play by Rayquan Evans led to a Scottie Barnes showtime dunk just before the first half buzzer, giving the Seminoles a 41-31 lead heading into the locker room.

FSU played 11 guys in the half, and that’s not including Balsa Koprivica who was dressed out, but appeared to be nursing a lower leg injury during warmups. Overall, the ‘Noles shot well in the opening stanza, making 51.9%, 45.5%, and 72.7% from the field, deep, and charity stripe respectively. But the turnover bugaboo—26.5% of their possessions, many on travels or offensive fouls—prevented the lead from being 15-plus. Gray led the ‘Noles with 12 and 8, while Evans displayed strong overall defense throughout.

Florida State’s shooters stayed hot during the intermission, with four different ‘Noles (Wilkes, Malik Osborne, Walker, and Polite) raining in threes during the first five minutes of the second half. Add in slams by Gray and Ngom and the FSU offense was humming.

But the malevolent religious leaders from Winston-Salem held their ground, connecting on deep threes and free throws of their own to essentially play FSU even during the first eight minutes of the second. Florida State even dropped into a bit of a rare 2-3 zone to try and disrupt Wake Forest’s rhythm, but to no avail. Polite made his third trey of the game to put FSU up 60-47, but Wake’s Jonah Antonio drained his 5th and 6th bombs on back-to-back possessions to quickly cut the lead down to seven. Antonio, a 37% shooter from deep coming into the game, was now 6-7 on the afternoon.

Antonio’s teammate, Daivien Williamson, got in on the action next and his NBA length three from the top of the key suddenly trimmed FSU’s lead to just 60-56. Osborne immediately responded with his third triple of the game (on three attempts to that point) and the lead was right back to seven.

But the Demon Deacons did not wilt. Florida State was called for goaltending to bring their lead to five. Then an over-turned shot clock violation led to a lay-up for Wake and suddenly the margin was just three, 63-60, with just under eight minutes to play.

Walker connected on a corner three to quickly put FSU back up six, but his foul on the other end gave Wake a three-point play the old fashioned way and it was 66-63. Antonio then buried his 7th triple to tie the game. Wake’s bench was fired up and FSU’s normally infectious sideline energy was no where to be found. Old Moe had certainly shifted.

The teams traded a pair of free throws before Leonard Hamilton called a 30-second timeout. More back and forth action out of the timeout resulted in a 72-71 Wake Forest lead with 3:05 to play. A pair of free throws by Gray flipped it to a one-point FSU lead, which was followed by the big man bringing the house down with a steal and authoritative one-handed slam. Yet once again a made three by Wake, this time by freshman Carter Whitt, tied the game at 75 with less than two minutes to play. The basket was only Whitt’s sixth made three on the season.

Following a blocked shot, Wake would hit another a deep triple to surge into a 78-75 lead. Barnes banked in a runner in the lane to bring FSU within one, and the ‘Noles finally got a stop and defensive rebound on the other end. But Walker’s top-of-the-key three rimmed out and Wake was able to extend its lead to two after a split trip at the free throw line.

A mad scramble took place on the following possession with the result being Polite heading to the line for two. But the junior could only hit one and the score was 79-78 Wake. FSU’s 10th foul sent Wake Forest to the line for two, but Ian DuBose returned the favor and split the pair, leaving FSU trailing 80-78 with just over five seconds remaining in the game.

Enter the five-star freshman. Reminiscent of the Indiana game earlier this season, Barnes received the in-bounds pass and raced up the court, getting all the way to the basket for a beautiful reverse lay-up with just 0.2 seconds left in regulation. The crowd went into jubilation and the game went into overtime.

In overtime, Gray went on a personal mission to foul out as many Demon Deacons as he could, sending two to the bench for good in the first three minutes. Even better, the rapidly improving point-forward cashed in at the charity stripe, giving FSU an 84-81 lead with 2:13 left. Good defense from Barnes and Gray on the ensuring Wake Forest possession led to a pass too hot to handle, giving FSU a critical stop. Osborne then corralled a key offensive rebound on the other end and sank a pair of resulting free throws, stretching the lead to five.

From there, FSU made enough free throws and forced enough stops to hold on for the hard-fought victory.

Gray was marvelous, at times simply taking over the game. In the end he finished with a career-high 24 points and a career-high 12 rebounds—including four on the offensive glass. He added four assists, three blocks, and a steal to round out a sensational all-around performance.

Barnes, the hero in regulation, filled out the box score with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals himself. Walker, Polite, and Osborne gave FSU five players in double figures, with Osborne adding eight rebounds, including several critical ones in overtime.

The Seminoles now face a short turnaround, with the ACC leading Virginia Cavaliers visiting the Tucker Center for a prime-time battle for first place in the league standings on Monday.