Florida State squeezes by Florida 65-63 on fluke play
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State guard Montay Brandon didn't believe his lying eyes as the Seminoles scored the game-winning basket against rival Florida on Tuesday night. He literally had to look at the scoreboard to confirm what he saw.
Teammate Devon Bookert had just badly missed a 3-point attempt in a tie game as the clock wound down, but somehow the ball found its way through the net. The ball took an odd bounce off the rim because it was short and Florida forward Jacob Kurtz accidentally tipped in the miss with 0.4 seconds left to give Florida State a 65-63 win. The victory snapped a Gators' five-game win streak in the series dating back to 2008.
The fluke play saved the Seminoles after they gave up an alley-oop from Kasey Hill to Dorian Finney-Smith with eight seconds remaining to tie the game at 63.
''That was crazy,'' said Brandon, who's never been involved in an ending like that. ''I thought he had a rebound. I guess it just slipped out of his hand. I don't know how to explain it, but I was just happy.
''At first I was looking around like, did that happen? Then I saw the scoreboard change and I was like, oh man, we're winning. I started going crazy.''
A pair of free throws by Brandon gave the Seminoles a five-point lead with 49 seconds left in the game. The two possessions seemed to be enough, but Hill knocked down a transition layup, was fouled and made the free throw. Then the alley-oop was set up off an offensive rebound.
Brandon and Hill tied for a game-high 17 points while FSU freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes added 13.
Finney-Smith finished with 14 points and seven rebounds while Michael Frazier added 11.
Florida State used a 14-2 run midway through the second half to take a 49-42 lead with 7:23 remaining. The margin was the largest FSU lead of the game.
The Gators responded with five consecutive made baskets after going scoreless for 4:57. A Hill steal and layup with 3:57 tied the game at 54 apiece.
''That was probably the first time I've seen a game end like that,'' Hill said. ''That was not Jacob Kurtz's fault at all. That was everybody's fault. We made some mental errors and that's what killed us. It wasn't Jake's fault at all.''
Both teams entered the contest with serious offensive woes. The Seminoles ranked No. 111 in the country by averaging 71.3 points per game as the Gators were No. 185 with 68.0 points each night out. Those numbers held true in the first half as the teams combined for 19 field goals and 24 turnovers.
''I didn't think it was a very well-played game by both teams,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said. ''Both teams played and competed hard, but it wasn't a very clean game. ... There was a lot of mental lapses by both teams.
''We lost on a fluke play, but even if that play didn't happen, what's to say they still wouldn't have won that game in overtime. You don't know what would have happened.''
Florida: The Gators didn't score their first field goal that didn't come off a goaltending call until more than seven minutes had elapsed. Six of their first 15 points came off goaltending calls. Florida shot 32.3 percent in the first half, but shot 53.3 percent from the floor in the second half.
Florida State: The Seminoles had 12 turnovers in the first half, but just three in the second half. They also increased their shooting percentage from 36.0 percent in the first half to 42.9 percent in the second half.
''It's one of those shots that went in that you shake your head about,'' Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. ''I've been on the other end of that so many times that I'll take that and be very happy.''
Florida hosts Connecticut on Saturday.
Florida State travels to Mississippi State on Friday.