Double Daggers: FSU advances with huge shots from likely, unlikely heroes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There might not be another stretch this season that sums up the unique depth and versatility of the the Florida State men's basketball team.
Devin Vassell, who is hardly ever on the floor in crunch time for the Seminoles, hit a game-tying 3-pointer from the corner with six seconds left in regulation.
And then Terance Mann, who is always on the court in crunch time, hit the first game-winning shot of his career with an off-balance runner with 1.8 seconds left to give FSU a 65-63 win over Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte.
It was the second overtime win for the Seminoles over the Hokies in nine days, and it sets up a rematch with No. 1 Virginia on Friday night.
"Right when I caught it, I saw they were kind of jogging back," Mann said of his game-winner. "And I knew had six seconds to get down there and make something happen. And it was open court, and I feel I'm pretty good in the open court. I just attacked it."
Mann said it was the kind of shot he practices all the time, and it felt good when it left his hand.
"It's just a shot I'm comfortable taking," Mann said. "And once I took the bump, I knew what time it was."
The Hokies' desperation 3-point heave bounced off the rim as time expired, and the Seminoles improved to 26-6 on the season. It was their 13th win in their last 14 games. And while Mann was the one who won the game, it was Vassell who gave him the chance in the first place.
The freshman, who didn't play a single second in the second half against the Hokies last week, hit three 3s in the first 39:53 of the game on Thursday.
His fourth was one he'll remember for a long, long time.
"I knew I wasn't going to be the first option," Vassell said. "But I knew the way the play was set up, they were going to key in on P.J. (Savoy). And Terance set a great screen, and I was ready to catch it. And when I caught it, I saw the rim and everybody told me to shoot it, and I just let it go."
He said it felt good when it left his hand.
Florida State assistant coach Dennis Gates definitely thought it looked good.
"When it left his hand, Coach Gates said, 'It's going in, Coach,'" Leonard Hamilton said. "And he was right."
Indeed he was.
Hamilton said Vassell wasn't the primary option on the play because there really isn't one. Inbounder Trent Forrest is just supposed to find the most open guy.
It was Vassell. The guy who hadn't played at all against the Hokies in the second half last week. And the guy who led the Seminoles in scoring this time around with 14 huge points off the bench.
If that doesn't sum up the depth of this team, then nothing does.
"It says a lot about our whole team," Mann said. "Not just Devin himself. Anybody can come off the bench and do what they've got to do to win the game. We have no quit. We're always fighting. Anyone on any given night can do something like that.
"That's just how we are."
Florida State actually had a 13-point lead early in the first half on Thursday, jumping out to a 17-4 advantage.
But the Hokies didn't win 24 games this season by accident. Their defense is really good. And they completely smothered FSU's centers in the paint -- senior Christ Koumadje and sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele were just a combined 3 of 13 from the floor with six turnovers.
Florida State's defense was impressive, too, however. The Seminoles held the Hokies, who are an excellent 3-point shooting team, to just 4 of 19 from 3-point range. And the Seminoles got back-to-back stops late in overtime to set up Mann's heroics.
"This team maintains their poise, they have a sense about them that they never seem to panic," Hamilton said. "They listen and they went out and executed the instructions. This team has shown a tremendous amount of maturity over the years. I think this is our, what, fourth overtime game that we won? Seemed as though they get more locked in the more intense the game becomes."
FSU has actually won six straight overtime games going back to last season. And after that last defensive stop, Hamilton said there was no thought about calling timeout.
"Because it was in transition and we couldn't have gotten a better shot than an open floor with him with the ball in transition," Hamilton said. "I was going to live and die with whatever happened as a result of that. He's very good in transition, he takes bumps, he makes those plays after contact all the time."
He hasn't made many more memorable than the one on Thursday night.
"It felt good coming off my hand," Mann said with a smile. "I knew it was going in."
And now Florida State plays Virginia on Friday night for a spot in Saturday night's ACC Championship game.