by Bill from Tampa
Obviously Florida State wanted to end the game right then and there. The Seminoles seemed determined that there was not going to be an overtime.
Just four plus seconds remained on the clock.
Luke Loucks pushed ball up the floor. Bernard James set the pick allowing Loucks to easily get past the defense. Loucks then found Michael Snaer who calmly stroked the the three ball from the right wing. And as the buzzer sounded, the ball found the bottom of the net.
Pandemonium erupted on the Seminole bench with players rushing the floor swamping Snaer. Leonard Hamilton simply nodded his approval as his team had just knocked off the fourth ranked team in the country, 76-73, ending a 45 game home winning streak for the Blue Devils. In addition, Duke had not lost to an unranked opponent since 2007.
Well, that might just change for the Seminoles who in the span of a week went 3-0 and demolished the Tar Heels by thirty three points. At the very least it is a certainty that the 'Noles will pick up more than one vote under the Others Receiving Votes column as they did in last week's poll.
After getting down by as much as eight points in the second half with ten minutes to play, FSU displayed tremendous poise in what is known as a very hostile place to play.
With the score tied at 50 and helped along by Seminole turnovers, the Blue Devils went on an 8-0 run to lead 58-50.
But Xavier Gibson, who led all Seminoles with 16 points, scored five in just over a minute on two free throws and a wide open three from just to the left of the circle. A driving layup by Snaer, a layup by James, and James later had a chance to tie it at the line. But James could only make one of two and the 'Noles trailed 61-60 with 5:20 to play.
From then on it was a dog fight and test of wills as each team traded big shots and big plays.
After Ryan Kelly sank a free throw, Loucks did tie the game at 62 a piece. But Austin Rivers got the lead back for Duke on a driving layup from the left side with 4:19 to play.
Later, an air ball by Gibson gave Duke a quick transition three pointer by Rivers from the right corner to go up by four, 67-63, at the 3:03 mark.
Gibson made up for the errant shot, when James underhanded a pass to Gibson on the left block for the authoritative slam dunk. Dulkys heaved a shot towards the rim that missed everything but James was right there to grab the ball and put it in the basket to tie the game at 67.
Just 2:27 remained.
Seth Curry's driving layup gave Duke the lead back.
James answered again for FSU with a hook shot in the lane.
Snaer attempted to grab the lead for Florida State on a runner that was no good. James, going for the offensive board, was called for the foul over the back, sending Rivers to the line. But Rivers made only one of two, leaving 1:13 on the clock.
Key on the miss by Rivers was Gibson's save of the ball before it went out of bounds. With that possession, Snaer, positioned out on the right wing, saw a lane and promptly drove the ball in, pulling up in the lane for the jumper and a 71-70 FSU lead.
Less than forty seconds remained when Curry put up a three that missed. FSU rebounded and Duke fouled Loucks. Loucks however only made one of two.
With twenty six seconds left, Snaer was called for blocking, sending Kelly to the line and a chance to tie. He could not and FSU still led, but only by one, 72-71.
With time running out, Duke was forced to foul Gibson. Even if he had made both free throws it still would have been a one possession game. But when he made just one of the two attempts that gave Duke options.
An animated Coach K was seen in the timeout imploring his team, and just ten seconds were left.
Three seconds later Curry drove the ball in and laid it in to tie the score at 73.
With 4.9 seconds left, Florida State was not interested in playing an extra five minutes.
The trap screen set by James got Loucks free of his defender; driving the ball quickly over the time line and the middle of the floor, he drew the defense to him. Spotting Snaer all alone, he zipped a perfect pass to Snaer for the game winning catch and basket.
Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of that final basket when Snaer canned a wild shot from the left corner that banked in just before the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half.
Hamilton called that basket a big play as the three pointer gave the Seminoles momentum and pulled them to 32-26.
That was clear as James, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored all of his 12 points in the final period.
Hamilton said he was obviously proud of his squad for how they handled the adversity of being behind and in a venue like Cameron.
"There were so many things to point to in this game," Hamilton said. "I felt like this team grew up some today."
Referring to the somewhat iffy start to the game for FSU Hamilton said, "It was hard to get in a rhythm in the first half. We settled down in the second .... but not a lot."
Hamilton possibly exaggerated a little as FSU did shoot just 39% but held Duke to only 31%. In the second half, while Duke shot 50% (and you knew they would start making baskets on their home floor), FSU blistered the nets at a 67% clip. On Duke's home floor.
Hamilton felt key in the win were the adjustments made at the half, where Duke had 11 offensive rebounds. Florida State did a much better job keeping the Blue Devils off the boards in the second half, allowing only three offensive rebounds.
Snaer finished with 14 and Dulkys had a solid game with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Hamilton did not mention it, but taking care of the ball was a large factor as well, with just 12 turnovers committed by the 'Noles in the game. That was against 15 assists, indicating the team has learned to move the ball and find the open man. It helps that FSU's shots are dropping as well.
With the win, FSU improves to 13-6 overall and 4-1 in the ACC.
Hamilton, contrary to his usual self, said they would enjoy this one for a while. But it is probably a good guess not for very long, as in as soon as the plane touched down back in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles will take the floor Wednesday night, again on the road, at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will be fresh off their 71-56 win on the road over Boston College. Tip of is set at 7 PM and will be on ESPN3.com.