(Featured Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/ USA Today Sports)
Sing it with me!!! F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E FLORIDA STATE FLORIDA STATE FLORIDA STATE WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Pardon me real quick the game ended about 15 minutes ago and I’m still hyped up . What a game! What a finish by god! My Seminoles for the first time in their basketball history, has defeated a #1 seed and a darn good one too. Xavier played us hard, really hard.
How big of a deal is this? On this day last year, Xavier plowed us 91-66 so this is a revenge spot for us first of all. Also FSU isn’t known for basketball (this is only our 5th time in the Sweet 16 in program history). Lastly, this is one upset on a day with many upsets, with Michigan State getting beat by a rough Syracuse team. North Carolina getting snow plowed in the paint by Texas A&M and Nevada, my goodness Nevada! Easily the greatest comeback in the history of the tournament!
So now since the game is over the question is this: How in the heck did we pull this one off?
Simply put, Xavier missed free throws down the stretch, and their best player, their most versatile player, J.P Macura, fouled out late in the game by forcing one glorious charge while the game was tied. Keep in mind the last 4 points we made were from the free throw line. We made our points when we had to. Xavier is a great free throw shooting team, why they didn’t make them I don’t know.
The first half I thought we did very well. There was a stretch where Xavier didn’t convert a field goal for 9 minutes. Our defense was stifling but so was theirs. We could have hit the lockers with a 3 point lead but Macura nails a late 3 and a foul called on us gave the Musketeers 2 free throws. 34- 32 was the score at the half.
“Great!” I thought. Now they have the momentum! See how fast things can change?!
There was a point in the 2nd half where we could’t hold onto the ball to save our lives and we were down by 11 at that point. We were giving up possession and being forced into turnovers. Then with 5:30 left into the game, we close it out with an 18-4 run to seal the deal.
In the dying moments, P.J Savoy hesitated, and then hit a clutch 3 to put us up at 71-70.
After two free throws put us up at 73-70, Xavier had a chance to tie the game or two cut the lead. There was 21.4 seconds left in the game and they gave Kerem Kanter a chance for a wide open 3. A big guy who was killing us in the paint ends up airballing Xavier’s last shot of the season. To be fair it was an open shot but questions would be asked as to why the ball didn’t go to Trevon Bluiett, who was their best player on the court. He didn’t have the best game as we kept him well contained throughout, even forced a late turnover that got the lead to 2.
We forced turnovers at the end of the game and forced the most crucial one with the last inbound pass. Our physicality, athleticism and ability to force fouls is what carried the day vs a tough Xavier team. What a time to be alive! What a game for the Noles baby!