CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Sophomore Dwayne Bacon scored a career-high 29 points by converting 6-of-9 3-pointers—including the game-winner—as 20th-ranked Florida State posted a 60-58 victory over 11th-ranked Virginia on Saturday afternoon. The win moves the Seminoles to 14-1 for the second time in program history and extends their current winning streak to 10 straight games. The Seminoles are the only ACC team with a perfect 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference record.
Bacon put the Seminoles in front 56-51 with a 3-pointer at the 2:07 remaining in the contest, but Virginia (11-2, 1-1 ACC) answered with a layup by Isaiah Wilkins that sliced the deficit to three just over a minute later. Jonathan Isaac converted a block and went 1-of-2 from the free throw line to give Florida State a 57-53 advantage with 25 seconds remaining.
The Cavaliers used two free throws by Devon Hall and a 3-pointer off the hand of Kyle Guy to score the next five unanswered, assuming a 58-57 lead with 10 seconds remaining. Without calling a timeout, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton turned to the hot-handed Bacon, who came through with a clutch 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in the game as the Seminoles improved to 4-0 on the road this season.
“In a situation like that, which we work on in practice a lot, if you call a timeout that gives them a shot to set their defense,” described Bacon. “The ball was on the run, the floor was spread, and we could not have had a better opportunity than what we had. I was afraid that if I called a timeout, as good as a defensive team as they have, that would not have been a very good decision.
“I knew I had messed up when Kyle Guy had missed the shot and I didn’t go all the way to the baseline, so when he hit it I wrapped around got it back,” Bacon described of his game-winning shot. “I saw that he [Wilkins] was on me, baiting me to drive, so I stepped back and knocked it down.”
Joining Bacon in double-digit scoring was Xavier Rathan-Mayes who contributed 10 points by virtue of hitting 2-of-5 from the floor and 5-of-6 at the free throw line. Among other significant offensive contributors included Terance Mann (six points), Phil Cofer (five) and Isaac (five). Florida State was a collective 20-of-49 (40.8%) from the floor, hitting eight 3-pointers in the process, hitting 13-of-29 (46.4%) from the field in the second half.
“The difference in the game was our guys showing a little more maturity, maintaining poise, and we had a guy, Mr. Bacon, with a hot hand,” said Hamilton. “We went to him repeatedly and he pulled us out. Seventy percent of all games in the ACC are decided by four points or less, and we are fortunate that our kids got the ball to the right guy when the game came down the stretch.”
Isaac controlled glass with a game-high nine rebounds as he pulled down three offensive rebounds. Fifth-year senior Michael Ojo added six rebounds, while Cofer and Rathan-Mayes hauled in four each to give the Seminoles a 35-34 advantage in rebounding.
Facing its largest halftime deficit of the season, seven points, Florida State opened the second half by putting together a 12-5 run to pull the game even at 35. Bacon kick-started the offense with a jumper just 36 seconds into the half and added two 3-pointers and a free throw to account for nine of the 12 points in the run.
Virginia moved in front by four on two occasions, including a 44-40 advantage at just over the midway point of the second half on a bucket by Marial Shayok, as the two teams battled for the lead. However, Bacon rallied the Seminoles by scoring five unanswered to give Florida State its first lead since a 19-18 advantage deep in the opening frame.
Solid defense by the Seminoles combined with the offensive production of Bacon and Isaac, who came through with a pair of free throws at the 4:50 mark, kept Virginia within striking distance. Bacon keyed the Florida State push down the stretch with a series of key buckets that provided a 53-51 advantage as teammate Trent Forrest added a steal to keep the Cavaliers’ offense off-balance.
“The University of Virginia is one of the more difficult teams for us to prepare for because they are so disciplined, they do such a great job of executing their offense, they take certain things away from you on the defensive end, and they just about controlled the game by taking certain things away from us on the offensive end,” added Hamilton. “Defensively, I thought we had a pretty good game plan, but obviously if you look at how they shot the ball from the floor and how easily they were able to be patient, score, and get the ball to certain players that they wanted to get shots, you see it’s a difficult preparation for us.”