March 9, 2014
Ninth seeded Florida State will face eight seeded Maryland in the first round of the 2014 ACC Tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday. March 13, 2014. The game will begin at Noon and be televised by ESPN and the ACC Network.
The winner of the Florida State vs. Maryland game will face the No. 1 seed Virginia on Friday at Noon.
Florida State and Maryland split their season series with each team winning at home. The Seminoles set an ACC record with 16 made 3-point field goals in their 81-65 win over the Terps on January 12 in Tallahassee.
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than a month of offensive struggles by seventh-ranked Syracuse came to an abrupt end at the most inopportune time – with Florida State desperate to build on its season-ending NCAA Tournament-worthy resume in Sunday’s Senior Day showdown against the Orange.
C.J. Fair scored a game-high 22 points, while Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis added 16 each as Syracuse turned in their most dynamic offensive performance since Feb. 1 in a 74-58 victory over the Seminoles before a season-high crowd of 10,435 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Syracuse (27-4, 14-4 ACC), which had lost four of five and not scored more than 62 points since its 91-89 win over Duke, put an end to Florida State’s three-game winning streak. Senior forward Okaro White lead the Seminoles (18-12, 9-9) with a 20-point, 11-rebound performance, and classmate Ian Miller added 16 points in the regular season home finale for the classmates.
It marked the first Senior Day defeat by coach Leonard Hamilton’s team in 10 years.
“They were better than we were today,” Hamilton said.
That was especially true over the final 12 minutes, after White, Miller and Aaron Thomas rallied the Seminoles from an eight-point second half deficit to within one, 47-46. White’s baseline jumper with 12:37 remaining brought the crowd to its feet and when Thomas drew an offensive charge from Fair at the other end of the floor, the Seminoles had a chance to lead for the first time since the 7:58 mark in the first half.
The momentum, however, quickly swung when Miller air-balled a 3-point attempt from the deep left wing and Orange guard Trevor Cooney countered with a 3-pointer for a 50-46 lead. Not even a media timeout could stem the tide.
“We had fought back up until that point, but I thought that was the turning point in the game,” Hamilton said.
If it wasn’t, Cooney’s second 3-pointer – he was just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc – was, as it pushed the Syracuse lead to 53-46.
The Seminoles made just two field goals over the final 12 minutes as the Orange pulled away.
Not only did the Orange find their stride offensively, they were even more challenging on the defensive end, thanks to the return of Grant from a back injury. With the 6-8 forward on one wing of the Syracuse zone and Fair on the opposite side, the Seminoles had trouble executing in the half-court.
“Having Jerami back put everybody in the right place,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’re a completely different team with Jerami Grant. If he wasn’t here we wouldn’t be happy right now.”
“It was a very big difference, because when you’re going against a scout team in practice, they don’t have a 6-8 playing the wing on one side and a 6-9 playing the wing on the other side and a 6-10 guy in the middle of the zone,” said White. “When you get out there everything jumps up a notch and their athleticism shows. …
“That’s the most athletic team we’ve played this year.”
The Seminoles shot just 38 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded by a whopping 43-24 advantage. Still, FSU more than held its own until the midway point in the second half. There were seven first half lead changes before the Orange built an 11-point lead courtesy a scoreless stretch which spanned 4:18 by the Seminoles.
Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis scored seven of his team-high 12 first-half points during the FSU drought, including a three-point play which gave the Orange their largest lead – 31-20 – with 2:48 remaining.
Thomas’ reverse layup put an end to the drought and sparked a 7-2 finishing run by the `Noles, which included a Miller 3-pointer and White’s putback dunk at the buzzer. White was everywhere in the first half of his final regular season home game, scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds.
With its winning streak over, the Seminoles enter the ACC Tournament needing a strong performance to enhance their chances of getting back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year hiatus. FSU will play Thursday in Greensboro, N.C.as either the No. 8 or No. 9 seed, depending on the outcome of Sunday night’s Boston College-NC State game.
“It’s not the first time we’ve been put in this situation,” Hamilton said. “Our guys bounce back. I really do believe this whole scenario has been a great learning experience for this team. … Our guys were put in a situation where they were in a sense of urgency. I expect them to come back, regroup and evaluate this game and see where we can improve.”
Boeheim, whose 947 career wins rank No. 2 all-time, isn’t sure how the ACC will fair when it comes to earning NCAA Tournament berths.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Boeheim said. “You look at it and there are so many teams that are really close. In my mind, this team (FSU) and Clemson and NC State are good teams. … This week in Greensboro some teams will have the opportunity to help themselves. I think somebody in our league can play their way in with a good tournament.”