Florida State Hangs On Against Notre Dame: 3 Game-Changing Plays

I’m tired of these nailbiters, but a win is a win. Weird things happen in the Tuck that result in Ws for FSU, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

Florida State looked like they were going to run away with this in the second half, but then they got too comfortable and let Notre Dame start chipping away, and Notre Dame got very close, with a chance to win at the end. However, FSU put together a great final defensive possession in a game where there wasn’t a ton of it. Good teams always find ways to win games, even when they should have blown the other team out.

Notre Dame opened and closed the game great, starting on a 15-4 run in the first four minutes, and ending on a 14-5 run in the last five minutes. Those 31 minutes in between, where Florida State outscored Notre Dame 76-55, made the entire difference on the game. Granted, there were some other plays that helped as well, but first, some box score notes.

Prentiss Hubb was lethal for Notre Dame tonight, finishing with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals, including 5/11 from distance. He hit one stepback 3 late in the game that kept this close for ND.

John Mooney was effective shooting the ball, but he was kept off of the glass almost entirely with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Juwan Durham ended with the most rebounds, and had one of the best games of his career with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

As a team, Notre Dame shot 10/27 from 3pt range, their highest percentage in a loss this season, another trend Florida State has bucked this season.

Have a game Wyatt Wilkes. The “Bread Man” finished with a career-high 19 points behind 5/6 shooting frown downtown. Confidence can really make or break a player, and you saw a player shooting with extreme confidence tonight.

RaiQuan Gray also finished with a career-high in points with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and a block… but his impacts (both good and bad) really showed towards the end of the game.

Trent Forrest dipped a hand in every stat tonight, finishing with 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. He is now the 2nd Florida State player ever to have 1000+ points, 500+ assists, 400+ rebounds, and 200+ steals… joining another Florida State legend to wear the #3- Bob Sura.

Florida State was blistering behind the arc this game, going 12/18 (66.7%). They were also great from the charity stripe, going 13/14 (92.9%). If FSU can keep those numbers up while also finding more defense, they won’t lose many games. It’s hard for Mike Brey to complain about officiating (which yes, there were bad calls, deal with it) when his team had double the FTs attempted.

Onto the plays.

Play 1

Scenario: 18.2 Seconds Remaining, RaiQuan Gray is inbounding

It’s funny how basketball works. With about 4 minutes remaining, I was thinking of what plays sparked big runs that I could put in here since the game was at a safe distance. Ha. Hahahaha.

There are a lot of plays we could look at to how this game got close, but really it was a lot of missed chances at the rim for Florida State and Notre Dame not missing much of anything. There were some great defensive sequences, like when Anthony Polite completely squared off a driving Notre Dame player in transition to take away a shot attempt, but what we need to talk about are the final three sequences, this one following the Prentiss Hubb step-back 3.

RaiQuan Gray goes to inbound following the timeout, runs one way, then stops, leans, and pump fakes before passing to Trent Forrest. The lean and pump fake killed him here.

Next time Gray gets in this situation, he needs to hard pump fake one way, turn and run and deliver a quick pass. This resulted in a layup for Notre Dame and cut the lead to one and could’ve been easily avoided.

Play 2

Scenario: The Following Inbound

This was just extremely well covered by Notre Dame. FSU ran their Hail Mary play where they send a man long hoping to sky a pass down the floor.

The Irish just absolutely covered this perfectly, nothing Gray could’ve really done here without a live ball turnover. This is really more on Anthony Polite than anything, as he’s supposed to come across the lane which Devin Vassell has to do instead, but by then it is too late. This isn’t on Gray. I would rather him hold the ball and get a 5-second call instead of a live ball turnover. Gray just misses getting the ball off by a fraction of a second. I had to slow it down with the ref’s count, it is extremely close.


Play 3

Scenario: The Final Possession of the Game

FSU has to guard two inbounds plays here at the end, so let’s take a look at how it ended. This may be a long section, FYI.

The first play, Notre Dame runs an incredible fake screening action to get Durham open under the basket.

If you want to keep clicking back in the video as I mention things happening, time stamps of the YouTube clip are included.

Durham gets Forrest on his back (10:04), and rolls hard to the rim. This is incredible awareness and reaction by RaiQuan Gray to turn around and meet Durham at the top of the release and block the shot (10:06). A scrum happens before the ball ends back up at midcourt following a tap-out. Hubb gets a ball-screen with 7 seconds remaining, leans towards the screen before turning it down, which gets MJ Walker on his hip (10:14).

Gray once again has to make a decision, this time coming in front of Hubb… but he slips. Somehow a foul isn’t called (I’d argue it should have been), and Polite blocks the shot out of bounds (10:18). Gray makes the correct decision here (NO EASY LAYUPS), but got incredibly lucky he wasn’t called for a foul.

This brings us to the final inbounds. Here’s a look at what the play looks like as it’s breaking (10:23).

A few would note that MJ Walker is lined up on the wrong side of his man, as you should always be between your man and the basket. To that I say…. eh, sorta. He should’ve been lined up over the top of him, on the front of Mooney’s right shoulder compared to the back, to try and force him to the corner. He is also expecting one of the two at the free throw line, most likely Goodwin, to roll towards his corner following the screen. This is why Walker stays in this corner following Mooney dive into the paint. That responsibility now falls on the man guarding the ball OR one of the two defenders in the paint.

Polite jumping actually covers any easy pass that could be delivered to Mooney, so the inbounder hurls it to Goodwin on the lane line extended, but again, because of Polite jumping, the pass is forced wide which gives Gray time to react to the play and cover Goodwin.

In reality, this should probably be Walker who goes out to guard Goodwin, as we are now left in no man’s land, but Gray recognizes that Goodwin would be open (think back to the Duke game last season, a very similar scenario played out, but Cam Reddish was left open) and he was in Goodwin’s grill as soon as the pass was caught. Again, phenomenal recognition by Gray.

Next up, Florida State travels to Charlottesville for a rematch against the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday, January 28th. Our game preview will look slightly different compared to normal, so check back on Tuesday for our preview.

Leave a Reply