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FSU Survives in OT Against Boston U: 3 Game-Changing Plays

Matthew Cleveland's game-winner pushed the Seminoles past Boston University on Wednesday night.

Well that was... something. Florida State was in control for most of the game, but Boston is a very experienced team that just wouldn't go away. Every time FSU would get a couple of baskets, Boston would answer with a key 3 or an and-one. Then the final minute was just brutal execution for Florida State. Up 69-61 with 0:48 left, here is the remaining play-by-play.

2 Made FT Mathon 69-63 0:41 

Front end FT miss from Fletcher 0:32 

Made 3 McCoy 69-66 0:23 

2 Made FT Mills 71-66 0:16 

2 Made FT Morales 71-68 0:06 

Front end FT miss from Polite 0:05 

Made 3 Morales 71-71 0:00

That is terrible execution. At one point to end the second half and start OT, Boston U was on a 14-2 run. That's inexcusable. But an ugly win is better than a pretty loss, and now FSU gets some much needed time off to prepare for Purdue. 

Before getting to the plays, some box score notes. 

Box Score Notes

First, a record setting performance: 12 straight overtime wins for Florida State is a college basketball record, and it's honestly an impressive one. You just wish you didn't need it against Boston U. 

Boston's offense gave FSU some fits in this game. They ran their sets really elevated and really spread out, which kept FSU from helping unless it was from really far away. Led to open kick outs that the 'Noles could recover on more times than not, but FSU was on their heels defensively for a lot of this game, and it showed with Boston shooting 48.2% from the floor, by far the most allowed by FSU this season (previous was Penn, who shot 39.7%). They were just ok from 3 at 9/27, they just made the timely ones and made their free throws (17/20). 

The thing with Boston was it was multiple guys deeeeep in the rotation that were killing Florida State. Daman Tate had 2 total points all season heading into this game; he finished with 12. Anthony Morales had never made a free throw in his career, yet he hit two clutch ones with 6 seconds left AND hit the game-tying 3 as time expired. Ethan Brittain-Watts came into the game with 8 points on the season and scored 9. We expected guys like Javante McCoy to have some numbers, and he did with 22 points, but when it's the deep end of the bench guys, sometimes you just charge it to the game. 

Florida State was fine offensively as well, shooting 47.6% from the floor, 40% from 3, and 75% from the FT line (should really be 68.2% since missing the front end of a 1-and-1 is essentially two misses). It wasn't turnovers, they only had 12 of their own compared to 19 for Boston. They just could never pull away from Boston, and it was thiiiiis close to costing them. Couldn't get the stops when necessary, would get beat back door occasionally... there's just some stuff they've gotta get cleaned up before Purdue. 

Matthew Cleveland was the hero tonight with the game-winner, but he also had a career-high 17 points, while chipping in 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. His putback to win the game is what people will be talking about most, but it's yet another time this season when the inexperienced player doesn't shy away from the moment. 

Caleb Mills had his best game since coming to Tallahassee, also scoring 17 points, but adding 5 assists and 5 steals to boot. His hands are so active defensively, and not enough was talked about with his defensive abilities coming from Houston. He would be switched onto the big and strip the ball away when the big brought it down, he's in passing lanes, he's exactly what Florida State needs. And on a night when Florida State didn't have RayQuan Evans, he handled the ball a lot too. 

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Malik Osborne was in double figures once again with 10 points and 7 rebounds, he missed most of the first half with some foul trouble (Harrison Prieto played pretty well in his place). He's so important for this team, and I'm glad he's starting to put up some numbers.

Cam'Ron Fletcher was also in double figures with 11 points and 5 rebounds, but he also posted the worst +/- on the team at -13 in 27 minutes. I don't know if anyone else was noticing it, but he didn't really seem to have great footing, was sliding all around the place, and got beat back door a few times. His energy is infectious and needed, just surprising to see that -13. 

Anthony Polite played a team-high 39 minutes, rare for a Leonard Hamilton team, and finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, a block, and just one turnover despite playing a lot of point guard. His last 5 seconds in the second half was a rough stretch, missing the front end of the 1-and-1 and not fouling despite being up 3, but overall he was solid. Oh, and did I mention his one block? Insane.  

Onto the plays. 

Play 1

Scenario: Boston's Game-Tying 3

Let's talk about it...

First of all, horrible miss from Polite on the FT. Barely even hit the right side of the rim. Then the decision to not foul is certainly questionable. It would've been the smart play, but instead, FSU lives with the result. 

And man, what a shot from Morales. He shot it sideways, hand in his face. Doesn't get much tougher than that, though there should've been much better execution. 

Play 2

Scenario: FSU Steals Inbounds Pass in OT

Matthew Cleveland cleaning this mess up is just a foreshadowing of what was to come, I guess. FSU couldn't really score in OT. They finally got one after a tough layup for Polite after a timeout, then this mess happened. I don't know why or how Boston's player started falling down while catching the ball, but it led to something positive for FSU. It felt a lot like when MJ Walker did it against Louisville a couple of seasons ago. 

Play 3

Scenario: Matthew Cleveland's Game-Winner

This is about as poor of a sequence as you can see. The offense just looked so lackadaisical despite being down 1.

Credit Matthew Cleveland for cleaning up the mess, but there at least needs to be SOME kind of action, not an isolation in transition. And I know people will be clamoring "why didn't we call a timeout??" In some situations, you'd rather go before the defense gets set. When Malik Osborne pulled the ball out with 9 seconds left, there probably should've been a timeout called. 

Florida State gets 6 days off to prepare for Purdue next Tuesday at 7 pm as part of the B1G/ACC Challenge, which is arguably its toughest game all season.