NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Terance Mann woke up Sunday morning thinking that he probably wouldn’t play.
Minutes before Florida State took on Xavier in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Leonard Hamilton filled out and turned in his starting lineup with the understanding that Mann wouldn’t play.
But after going through light warmups and spurred with the knowledge of what was at stake, Mann, saddled by a painful groin injury that he aggravated during Friday’s win over Missouri, knew that he had to at least try to give it a go.
“They were announcing the starting lineups (in the arena), and I looked at Coach (Hamilton),” Mann said. “And I was like, ‘Coach, I’m ready.’”
“I didn’t even know he was going to dress, to be honest with you,” Hamilton added.
Hamilton called Mann over, asked him if he was sure and asked that he please not put himself in a bad position if he wasn’t ready.
Mann insisted he’d be alright.
Hamilton then consulted the team’s doctor, Jason Oberste, who said that the decision came down to how Mann felt on the floor.
In that case, there was no decision at all. The junior swingman checked in at the 17:15 mark and played 24 minutes during No. 9-seed Florida State’s 75-70 win over top-seeded Xavier.
Playing through pain, Mann performed his usual do-everything role in spurring the Seminoles to their first victory over a No. 1 seed. He scored 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, forced one steal and relentlessly pestered the Musketeers while on defense.
Any lingering effects from his injury didn’t prevent Mann from getting to the basket, and they didn’t stop him from pulling up for a 3-pointer that cut FSU’s deficit to single digits after trailing by 11 midway through the second half.
“The way he was moving up and down the court, it was obvious that he was moving without a whole lot of discomfort,” Hamilton said. “So we went with him.”
In more ways than one.
Teammates after the game said that seeing Mann push through in such critical moments helped them to do the same.
Florida State’s leading scorer for much of the season, Mann (12.8 ppg) was a key part of FSU’s last three teams and assumed a new role as a locker room leader this year.
“We all came together and were like, ‘We have to play for Terance. Terance is playing through an injury – for us,’” guard P.J. Savoy said. “’So we have to get this win for him.’”
Added sophomore guard Trent Forrest: “When you see your leader do that, you have to up your level of play. I feel like that’s what we did.”
Indeed, Mann’s 3-pointer was part of a 31-14 FSU run that stunned the Musketeers and launched FSU into the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in school history.
Mann also scored via a tip-in and a jumpshot during that stretch and, in fitting fashion, intercepted Xavier’s desperate, floor-length inbounds pass to seal the win.
“Terance is our leader, throughout the whole season,” redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele said. “And we look to him either for production or energy, (to be) vocal. And he delivered today.
“When he performed, it wasn’t surprising.”
Nor was it surprising that, when the Seminoles’ celebration spilled into their locker room, it was Mann who had the honor of moving FSU’s name to the next line of the NCAA tournament bracket.
“We’re going to be in the ‘One Shining Moment’ (video, at the end of the tournament),” Mann said. “Sorry, Xavier, but we’re on to the next.”