Seminoles turn back Hokies, 74-68, advance to ACC tourney semifinals
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- It started with the familiar, it ended with the opposite.
The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies, 74-68, Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The 'Noles overcame an eight-point first-half deficit and reminders of their own road woes to advance to the semifinal round at the Barclays Center, where they will face Notre Dame on Friday around 9:30 p.m. The Irish defeated Virginia in the late game Thursday, 71-58.
The Seminoles continued their trend of slow starts outside the Tucker Center with Virginia Tech shooting 46.7 percent from beyond the arc to start the game. Senior guard Seth Allen, who did not play when these two met in January, was the star 11 points in the opening 20 minutes of action.
"It seemed like we were kind of lethargic," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said of his Seminoles' early struggles. "We just weren't quite sure of the things we were supposed to be doing, but I knew once the jitters wore off, we were going to be OK."
After a strong finish to the half, the Seminoles trailed just 35-33 at halftime. Florida State would then use that momentum to propel themselves to an 8-3 run to start the final period and take a 43-38 lead.
"I think it was pretty big" Seminoles sophomore Dwayne Bacon said. "When we went on our run, it was our bench players and they were just wearing them down. That's what we've been getting from those guys all year."
Florida State's "Boom Squad" of a bench would deliver 20 points and eventually wear down the Hokies in the second half. Forward Phil Cofer and guard Braian Angola-Rodas led the bench bunch with six points apiece.
"It kept everything in perspective," said FSU freshman forward Jonathan Isaac, who snagged a double-double on the evening with 11 points and 12 rebounds. "I wasn't scared at all of where we were at. ... I thought we were in a good position to make a run."
The Hokies would make a run of their own to take a 49-48 lead with 11:24 to play. But Florida State would save the best for last, going on a 22-13 run in the final nine minutes of play, thanks in part to the 'Noles switching to a zone defense down the stretch.
"I'm not a zone guy," Hamilton said of his traditionally man-to-man defense. "We've found out that with the caliber of teams that exist in the ACC, you can't always go man-to-man with these guys."
Leading the charge offensively was Bacon, who after only scoring two points in the first half would put up 15 in the second. The Seminoles' defense provided the spark on the other end of the floor as they only allowed the Hokies to shoot 33.3 percent from the floor in the second half.
"A couple players told me this is your half," Bacon said of his second-half heroics. "We were down two, so it wasn't too bad. So we came back from halftime with a chance to fight back, and that's what we came out to do."
Stay connected with Warchant.com for more coverage from Brooklyn.