ATLANTA (AP) — Michael Snaer hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer.
No surprise there.
After Florida State squandered an early 13-point lead, Snaer blew by the Georgia Tech defense — perhaps catching a break from the refs — and made a driving layup just before the horn to give the Seminoles a 56-54 victory Tuesday night.
“When my team needs a basket, I stop thinking about everything else,” Snaer said. “I know we’ve got to get one.”
For Snaer, it was the fifth game-winning shot of his career. This one came in Atlanta, where he led Florida State to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship last season and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Snaer made up for a turnover on the Seminoles’ next-to-last possession, when he let a routine pass slip through his hands and couldn’t save it from rolling out of bounds. Mfon Udofia, who had banked in a 3-pointer to tie the game at 54 with a minute remaining, tried to win it with another quick trey, but this one missed with 30 seconds to go.
Florida State rebounded and called timeout to set up the last play.
“We didn’t want to settle for a jump shot,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We wanted to take it to the basket.”
Devon Bookert dribbled down the clock before passing off to Snaer, who might’ve gotten away with a push-off. Udofia went flying near the top of the key and Georgia Tech complained bitterly, but the refs made no call.
With his defender scrambling to get up, Snaer spotted an opening down the right side of the lane, darted toward the hoop and banked it in just before the red light came on. The officials took a look at the replay, but they didn’t need long to rule the shot counted.
“I was going hard to the basket and I stopped,” Snaer said. “I didn’t want to bring my arm out at all, and when (Udofia) fell back and the ref didn’t call it, I knew it was the right call. I just went to the basket after that.”
Hamilton also thought the officials got it right.
“Mfon just slipped,” the coach said. “There was some contact there. But there was a lot of contact all night long. That’s just the nature of the game. He kind of slipped and that’s unfortunate for him.”
Udofia, of course, saw it differently.
“I didn’t slip at all,” he said. “I felt like he pushed off. The ref had a chance to make a call, and he didn’t make the call.”
Snaer led the Seminoles (13-9, 5-4) with 15 points. Daniel Miller and Brandon Reed had nine points each for Georgia Tech (12-9, 2-7).
Kiel Turpin and Boris Bojanovsky added 10 points apiece for the Seminoles, who raced to a 13-0 lead but couldn’t put away the Yellow Jackets. In fact, Georgia Tech was ahead by halftime, and it was tight the rest of the way.
In the end, it was another Florida State victory. The Seminoles have won eight straight in the series, their longest run of dominance against Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets failed in their bid for a second straight home victory, having rallied in the final minutes to knock off Virginia in their previous game. Georgia Tech got scoring contributions from 10 players but not enough to finally beat FSU.
Florida State jumped ahead by outrebounding the much-shorter Yellow Jackets 7-1 in the early going and taking advantage of five turnovers.
But Georgia Tech began to slice into the deficit, sparked by Reed’s consecutive 3-pointers from a nearly identical spot beyond the arc. When Reed hit another trey with 1:44 left in the half, the Yellow Jackets had their first lead of the night, 25-23.
The home team was still on top at the half, going to the locker room with a 27-26 advantage after Udofia ran down the clock, drove toward the lane and got off an awkward pass to Miller. The 6-foot-11 center made a strong move to the hoop, dunking over two Florida State defenders with three seconds remaining.
Georgia Tech kept it going right after the break. Miller hit a jumper from the top of the key and Robert Carter Jr. swished a hook shot to give the Yellow Jackets their biggest edge at 31-26.
Udofia, the only senior on the Yellow Jackets roster, hasn’t given up on his team making a late run in the ACC — and perhaps pulling out its first NCAA bid since 2010.
“It’s never over,” he said. “Me being a senior leader, I’ve got to keep pushing the guys and telling them it’s never over. If you’re going to go out, you want to go out strong.”
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
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