FSU takes dramatic win over UF
By St. Clair Murraine Outlook staff writer
The pressure was mounting in the closing seconds Sunday night and the FSU home crowd was deafening inside the Civic Center.
None of it bothered freshman Jonathan Isaac, though. Twice he went to the free-throw line during the final 14 seconds, nailing all four shots that helped the Seminoles hold off University of Florida 83-78.
The freshman’s finishing touches on the Seminoles’ third straight victory over UF came after sophomores Dwayne Bacon and Terrance Mann dismantled the Gators’ top-ranked defense. Bacon scored 16 second-half points and finished the game with 24.
Bacon took tough shots all night. At one point midway through the second half he made off-balanced back-to-back layups that helped FSU hold a 12-point lead.
“That’s just how I play,” he said. “I’m good at being off-balanced but stretching to make a layup. I just played the way I play.”
Mann scored 16 points. He also had 10 rebounds, getting most of them by disrupting the Gators’ second-chance opportunities on shots that could have easily been put-backs.
“I just didn’t want them to come back and win so I just needed that ball,” Mann said. “I think today I had to be real aggressive so I told myself to be aggressive and let things come to me and that’s what happened.”
The win not only gave FSU its first victory over a ranked team this season, but its third in the last two seasons. It also answered concerns that coach Leonard Hamilton had about how FSU would respond over the No. 21-ranked UF team that had won against the likes of Miami and North Florida.
“That was a point of concern coming in (because) we were a little indecisive,” Hamilton said. “We were very fortunate to have a little run near the end of the half to give us the four-point lead.”
FSU led 36-34 at halftime. The first 20 minutes were telling, Hamilton said, after watching the Gators dictate the tempo in the opening half.
“We had quick recoveries,” he said. “They have shown they can recover quickly when they make mistakes. I liked the energy, the camaraderie and the conversation they were having among themselves.”
Early on in the closing 20 minutes, the Seminoles seemed to be on their way to a more convincing win until the dramatics began in the closing seven minutes. The Gators’ defensive pressure reduced a 12-point FSU lead to just three, 77-74, with 1:37 left to play.
However, UF missed an opportunity to pull within one when KeVaughn Allen’s three-point attempt bounced off the rim and fell into the hands of Mann, who was fouled on the rebound. Mann nailed both shots from the line.
Then, the Isaac free-throws sealed a win that Hamilton didn’t want to make too much of this early in the season.
“I’m not going to be too philosophical about this because we still realize who we are,” he said. “As long as we stay in the moment, we have a lot more work to do.”