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January 24, 2013
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It had to be him.
Nevermind the fact that Michael Snaer had hit just 4 of his last 13 three-point attempts.
Roaring back from a double digit deficit and with the game tied and eight seconds left on the clock, there was no chance that the senior guard was going to let anyone else touch it.
He took the inbounds pass and dribbled around for almost all eight seconds, and at the last possible moment he released a shot from the wing, well beyond the three-point arc, that banked in for a 60-57 win for Florida State over Clemson at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Thursday night.
"It felt good leaving my hand," Snaer said of his third-career buzzer-beating game winner. "I didn't know how it was going to go in but I was like 'This is probably going in.' I don't know it just felt good. I had the lucky touch before, when you have a guy that has that lucky touch you've just got to give it to him I guess."
With the game tied at 57-57, Clemson controlled the ball with 23 seconds to play and just 15 seconds on the shot clock. FSU forced a KJ McDainels' three-point attempt as the shot clock winded down. The ball never touched the rim and the Seminoles took over on a shot-clock violation with the eight seconds remaining.
"The last play, we looked like a team that didn't have a guy who wanted to go make a play and took a bad shot," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. "Then their best player hit a great shot to win it."
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton wanted Snaer to try and drive to the basket in the final seconds, but he said Clemson did a good job clogging the lane and forcing him to settle for a three.
Snaer said he didn't realize he let quite so much time run off the clock until he crossed the Seminole logo at midcourt and saw the time quickly slipping away.
"I was thinking by the time I got across half court I would have five seconds, but I only had two, so I was like 'I've got to put something up at this point,'" he said. "So I knew I had just enough time for a speed dribble and a shot, so that's what I did."
The Seminoles (11-7, 3-2 ACC) trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half as Clemson used an early 15-0 run to go up 29-16. FSU was able to cut it to 29-21 by halftime after a three-point play by Boris Bojanovsky and a pair of Devon Bookert free throws.
Despite his team hitting just 8 of its first 25 shots from the floor, Hamilton felt his team would be able to make a run in the second half as it cut the halftime lead to just eight points.
"I didn't think we played very well at all the first half," Hamilton said. "I thought we had a rash of turnovers. But we felt at halftime we hadn't played very well and we hadn't had very many of our veterans in the game, what few we have. We thought we could come back the second half and make a run at it."
The Tigers (10-8, 2-4 ACC) got into foul trouble extremely early in the second half. Clemson committed its seventh team foul of the second half with 16:45 left in the game. FSU was in the double bonus with 9:27 still on the clock.
FSU used its free throws to chip away at the Clemson lead, hitting 14 of 16 at the charity stripe. Kiel Turpin lead the way with a career-high 16 points, all of which came in the second half, as he hit 8 of 9 from the free-throw line.
"I knew they weren't going to be able to defend me because they only had two bigs really," Turpin said. " With them in foul trouble I was pretty much free to do what I needed to get he ball in the hole."
Clemson pulled ahead 55-52 with 1:41 left after Rod Hall made one of two free throw shots. Snaer quickly answered with a drive to make it a one-point game. He finished with 11 points in the game.
After a Clemson jumper, Snaer drove to the basket with less than 45 seconds left in the game. This time however he kicked it back out to true freshman Devon Bookert for a wide-open three that tied the game at 57.
"Mike told me before we went out there the defense was going to be focusing on him," said Bookert, who also had 11 points. "So he said 'They're probably going to collapse on me so just be ready to shoot.' He had faith in me and I let the shot go in."
After the game winner, Snaer rushed down the court to celebrate just in front of the student section and Clemson's bench.
The win clinched the first season sweep of Clemson for FSU since 2009, and snapped a two-game losing streak for the Seminoles.
"It was big win for us," Hamilton said "We needed something positive to happen for us."
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