Snaers game winner lifts FSU past No. 4 Duke

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DURHAM, N.C.--- Michael Snaer nailed a three-pointer to lift Florida State to a stunning 76-73 victory over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. It was a dagger that ended the Blue Devils' 45-game home winning streak and gave Florida State its fourth straight conference win.
"When there's four seconds left you just have to get up the court and make plays. That's when you've got to trust your instincts and you've got to trust all your work in the gym," said Snaer, a junior who scored 14 points including three-point buzzer beaters at the half and to end the game. "You get in those positions all the time where your team looks to you to make a play, and finally (Saturday) I was able to deliver."
Snaer's clutch three-pointer completed a remarkable run late in the game for the Seminoles, who trailed 58-50 midway through the second half and by as much as four points in the final three minutes.
"When you play against a great team like Duke and you go down to the wire, anything can happen," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Obviously the ball was in our hands as the clock was running down, and we were very fortunate that Michael knocked it down."
"(Florida State) is really good. It's as competitive a game as you could have," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I thought the kids played well. It was an 'older guys' game."
The Seminoles showed remarkable poise down the stretch as they rallied to tie the game and ultimately win on the buzzer-beating shot by Snaer.
"We've trained all season for moments like this, and we were able to come out on top. We've been complacent in the past, but those days are behind us," said FSU forward Bernard James, who scored 12 points for the Seminoles.
James struggled for much of the first half to find his way as Duke's big-man tandem of brothers Miles Plumlee and Mason Plumlee made his job difficult. James scored just one point in the opening half as Duke built an early lead and corralled 10 offensive rebounds.
Duke would build a 27-19 lead at one point in the first half as Florida State went seven minutes without a made field goal. But behind stellar defense by the Seminoles - FSU held Duke to 31.4 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes - the game remained within six at the break thanks to Snaer's banked-in three pointer just before the buzzer at halftime.
"We thought the game was slipping away from us a little bit in the first half. I thought our guys were a little hyper in the first half and couldn't get settled down. Our execution wasn't as good as we hoped," Hamilton said. "That was a big shot that Michael hit at the end of the first half. It at least stopped the bleeding a little bit."
FSU came out firing in the second half as a slam dunk by James ignited a rally that would ultimately lead to the Seminoles tying the game 36-36 on an alley oop dunk by Xavier Gibson. Gibson led Florida State with 16 points.
After Deividas Dulkys buried a jumper to give FSU its first lead at 38-36, the teams spent some time trading the lead back and forth.
But Duke surged midway through the second half, taking advantage of three straight Florida State turnovers to put together to build a 58-50 lead at the 9:45 mark.
"We turned the ball over three or four times in a row, but that's when I thought our players showed a lot of character," said Coach Hamilton.
This was a point in the game where FSU could have easily folded, but the Seminoles showed remarkable poise in the face of a tremendously intimidating road environment to battle its way back.
"We pretty much knew that they (Duke) were going to go on runs at home. We knew that," Snaer said. "My biggest thing (Saturday) was just telling my teammates, 'Don't worry about it. We're going to win this game.' You have the confidence that you're going to win the game throughout the whole game. You don't hang your head."
Trailing by eight, FSU started going inside more to Gibson and James, and the tandem propelled the Seminoles back into it. Gibson nailed a three pointer while James made several clutch shots down the stretch.
Loucks completed a 12-4 run for FSU with a pair of free throws, tying the game at 62-62 with 4:48 left. And after Duke scored four more points to go ahead 67-63, Gibson converted a slam dunk and James made back-to-back baskets, tying the game once again at 69.
Austin Rivers scored for Duke with under 10 seconds left, tying the game at 73-73 with 4.9 seconds left. That set up Snaer's late-game heroics.
Snaer gave all the credit for his first-ever game-winning buzzer beater to Luke Loucks, who got him the ball in position to make the shot.
"That was my first (game-winner). Even before we came here, I was thinking about it. I knew it might come down to the wire, and I was not going to let my team down again. So I was constantly thinking about it," Snaer said.
"I didn't even look at the clock. I just knew that if it was coming to me, I was throwing it up. I just trusted Luke. I knew he'd pass it to me, and that I'd shoot it. So that's when I caught it and got it up. You've really got no time to think. You just throw it up and hope it goes in. You've just got to trust that all the work you've put in is going to pay off."
"When you've got 4.8 seconds left, you've got to push the ball down the floor and you've got to make good decisions," said Hamilton. "(Loucks) found Michael, and Michael was very fortunate to knock it down."
Snaer's game-winning three-pointer has climaxed a remarkable week of hoops for the Seminoles, who have now beaten North Carolina, Maryland, and Duke all in succession.
At 4-1 in ACC play, Seminoles now find themselves in the thick of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season race, hanging right alongside UNC and Duke, who also have one loss apiece in ACC play now thanks to FSU.
"I'm proud of our guys, because this is a very difficult place to win," said Hamilton. "It was a big win for us. We have a lot of room for improvement, and we're kind of growing up on the job.
"It's a signature win on the road for us in a place where not very many people have won."