FSU basketball got the 23rd win of the season with a close road victory over the Tigers – with Xavier Rathan-Mayes coming up huge in the victory.
After seeing their fair share of struggles in conference road games, FSU basketball looked like a different team today. The Clemson Tigers have a poor 14-14 record (4-12 in the ACC), but their numbers suggest they’re a far better team than that. KenPom had them ranked 36th-overall in the country going into the contest. So, for the Seminoles to travel to their place and win was impressive – even if the final score marker did read just 76-74.
The win is especially big considering Dwayne Bacon had a poor showing. The sophomore wing player scored 12 points, on 3-of-14 shooting, to go with three turnovers. He was so off that when the game got late and FSU needed a basket, they didn’t go to him (as they are prone to do). They went to their junior point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes instead. More on his performance in just a bit.
The Seminoles did an okay job defending, holding the Tigers to 45 percent shooting and merely four three-pointers. But they did a porous job of not fouling. Clemson took advantage, making 26 of their 32 attempts from the line. (Florida State was also excellent from the stripe, shooting 82 percent on 28 tries.)
Tigers forward Jarron Blossomgame (their best player), scored 24 points on 11 shot attempts, and was excellent throughout. It just wasn’t enough to get them over the hump and take the win from the Seminoles.
Let’s hand out some hardware!
Player of the Game
This award clearly goes to XRM. The point guard scored 15 points and couldn’t drop a three, but his impact was undeniable. His defense, in particular, stood out, but he also had four rebounds and seven assists to just one turnover.
With the game on the line in the closing moments and the Seminoles down one, it was Mayes who slithered his way to the basket and hit a tough go-ahead layup that earned his team the win. Mayes is having such a sneaky good year. Hopefully he gets some love with postseason awards.
Florida State Seminoles Basketball
Ryan Reid Unsung Hero Award
Freshman backup point guard Trent Forrest was absolutely spectacular tonight. I was tempted to name him player of the game, but his stat-line against Clemson just screamed glue guy.
Forrest finished with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. He went 5-for-7 from the foul-line, 2-of-4 from the floor. It was his defense that made his performance stand out. He displayed his usual toughness, not letting players get by him, and he did so without fouling. The same can’t be said for most of his teammates.
The fact that head coach Leonard Hamilton trusted him to stay in the game as it winded down shows how much faith the staff has in the freshman. Forrest made a couple of tough layups with less than two minutes left, as well as a free-throw that took FSU’s lead to two. It was ultimately enough to get the Seminoles a vastly important win.
Honorable mention goes to freshman Jonathan Isaac, who dropped 14 points on eight shot attempts. He also blocked a potential game-winning shot by Clemson in the waning moments.
And these are always fun.
To everyone questioning why they are celebrating beating a 14-14 team… just don’t. They’re college kids, and I’m sure they felt pressure to perform well today after how badly their other road games have gone. Would you rather they be stoic and not care? Exactly. Let them enjoy it.
Florida State’s next game is a massive one. It’s a road contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium, to face the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday night. The game tips at 7 pm ET, and you can watch it on ESPN. Look out for our preview, which always comes on the day of.
But until then, that’s all from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekends, FSU fans. And be sure to celebrate the team’s 2-0 record this week. Go ‘Noles!