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ACC Men’s Basketball: Miller caps Seminoles’ rally
GUARD’S 3-POINTER IN LAST SECOND PUTS FINAL
NAIL IN HEART OF CAVS, WHO BLEW LARGE LEAD
NAIL IN HEART OF CAVS, WHO BLEW LARGE LEAD
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
CHARLOTTESVILLE—The crowd gathered at John Paul Jones Arena could only stand quietly in disbelief.
Florida State sophomore guard Ian Miller had just drained a 3-pointer with 0.8 second remaining to give the No. 22 Seminoles a 63–60 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over No. 24 Virginia.
Many of the 11,807 who gathered Thursday night walked away stunned following Miller’s shot.
Others shook their heads and watched Virginia guard Sammy Zeglinski misfire on a desperation heave from beyond half-court as the buzzer sounded.
Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett and his players appeared disheartened as they spoke about a contest in which they lost an 11-point lead in the final 4:10 en route to their fourth defeat in the past six games.
“I think they got a little more aggressive offensively, and at the wrong time we got passive,” Virginia sophomore forward Akil Mitchell said. “They starting throwing punches, and we backed down a little bit.”
The Seminoles’ first significant blow in their 16–2 run to close the game was Miller’s 3-pointer with 3:16 remaining.
The play trimmed their deficit to 58–55. It occurred following an offensive foul on Virginia guard Joe Harris as the Cavaliers attempted an inbounds pass. Miller completed a three-point play previous to that, which meant the Seminoles (20–9, 11–4 ACC) tallied six points with only one second coming off the clock.
“I hope that was a good call,” Bennett said of the foul on Harris, “because it certainly was a pivotal play in the game.”
It wasn’t the only one.
After the Cavaliers (21–8, 8–7) went ahead 60–55 on two Jontel Evans free throws, Snaer responded with a jumper with 2:41 remaining. The Seminoles tied the game at 60 on Deividas Dulky’s 3-pointer with 1:55 left.
Virginia was paced by an ACC career-high 28 points from forward Mike Scott on his Senior Night, but he attempted just one shot in the final crucial minutes.
“It was very important,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of keeping the ball away from Scott down the stretch. “I mean, Scott’s a handful.”
Mitchell rebounded Scott’s missed jumper with 1:08 remaining.
However, the possession ended on a turnover when Zeglinski tried to force a pass to Mitchell, setting the stage for Miller’s heroics.
“When it left my hand, I knew it was good,” said Miller, who connected from the right wing over Zeglinski’s outstretched arm. “Some shots you just know are going in.”
The Seminoles played the final 4:33 without post players Bernard James and Okaro White. James was ejected with 4:58 remaining after he was called for a flagrant foul for kicking Harris in the stomach as both lay on the court following a scramble for a loose ball.
White fouled out 25 seconds later. Their absences forced the Seminoles to go to a four-guard lineup, and it may have worked to their advantage.
“They were spreading us out,” Zeglinski said, “and they made some big shots.”
Miller scored 15 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.
Virginia now has to regroup quickly as it attempts to rescue its season.
The Cavaliers once appeared certain to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007, but their recent struggles have left that in doubt. They visit Maryland on Sunday to wrap up the regular season.
They played Thursday night without freshman guard Malcolm Brogdon, who is out with a foot injury. Bennett said he’ll update the statuses of Brogdon and injured senior center Assane Sene soon.
Said Bennett: “I told the guys, ‘I know it stings. I wish I had words to make it better. It stings, but you’re going to be all right.’”
FLORIDA ST. (20-9)
James 3-5 1-1 7, Gibson 5-7 2-3 12, Loucks 0-3 1-2 1, Dulkys 1-4 2-2 5, Snaer 5-11 2-2 12, White 1-2 1-2 4, Peterson 2-2 0-0 4, Space 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 6-10 1-1 18, Kreft 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-45 10-13 63.
Scott 9-15 10-11 28, Ak. Mitchell 1-2 1-2 3, Evans 4-8 2-3 10, Harris 2-8 3-4 9, Zeglinski 3-8 0-0 8, Jesperson 0-0 0-0 0, Atkins 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-44 16-20 60.
Halftime—Florida St. 29-20. 3-Point Goals—Florida St. 7-16 (Miller 5-8, White 1-1, Dulkys 1-3, Loucks 0-1, Snaer 0-3), Virginia 4-9 (Harris 2-3, Zeglinski 2-6). Fouled Out—White. Rebounds—Florida St. 27 (James 6), Virginia 21 (Scott 10). Assists—Florida St. 11 (Loucks 4), Virginia 13 (Harris 5). Total Fouls—Florida St. 16, Virginia 17. Technical—James. A—11,807.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526