FSU Bounces Back Against VT: 3 Game-Changing Plays

That was much more fun that the last few games.

Florida State led most of the way, and hopped on the back of Devin Vassell on their way to a double-digit win over a Quadrant 1 opponent in Virginia Tech.

The second half, in particular, was all Florida State. They entered half with a 5-point lead, it never got below 4 in the second half, got as high as 16 before settling at an 11-point, 74-63 victory.

The first half was more back and forth, but luckily games aren’t won in the first 20 minutes. Without Vassell, FSU’s offense was looking ragged, and wasn’t getting many clean looks off. The defense played pretty well all game, save for VT getting a few easy looks in transition. A lot of the Hokies’ buckets came very late in the shot clock after the Seminoles played a great defensive possession.

In a big ACC win like this, there’s quite a few plays that change the course of the game and we’ll get to those, but first, some box score notes.

As mentioned, Devin Vassell was phenomenal, finishing with another career-high 27 points (on 10 shots. 10!), 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, including 7/7 from downtown. He was absolutely unstoppable, getting wherever he wanted to get to, and was just all around dominant. FSU has needed a go-to scorer, especially tonight with MJ Walker out, and he absolutely showed up tonight.

No one else was in double figures for FSU, but a lot of players had a huge impact. Patrick Williams’ length and athleticism had sure been missed the last few games. He may have only finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds, but any time FSU had to have a rebound, you’d see #4 skying for the board. He’s going to have to be big against UNC, a really great rebounding team.

Dominik Olejniczak had his best game as a Seminole when it comes to pure impact. He had 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal, but his impact was worth so much more. He opened a vertical scoring threat that wasn’t there the rest of the game, and because VT is so small, they swarmed Olejniczak to try and make him give the ball up. Even if he wasn’t terribly efficient, that impact is so important.

Tyrece Radford was the difference maker for VT, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds. He was getting to the rim when he wanted, and was finishing consistently. He had a few looks that were too easy, but that’ll happen occasionally against a really aggressive and opportunistic defense.

The usual beast for VT, Landers Nolley II, was incredibly inefficient but still finished with 14 points (granted, it was on 16 shots). Florida State did a good job denying his good looks all game.

Hunter Cattoor decided he wanted to be Jerry West in the first half, but didn’t score in the second half. If he’d kept his production up, this would’ve been a much closer game.

It’s funny what Florida State can do when the game isn’t decided by the officials. It was a low fouling game, just 20 fouls between the two teams combined and 17 combined free throws. These are the types of games fans want to see, just let the two teams play out who is better amongst them.

Virginia Tech came in the game as the biggest 3-point shooting threat in the ACC, but you wouldn’t have known it from this game. FSU was 10/22 from downtown compared to VT’s 7/30, and a couple of VTs makes from deep didn’t come until the game was well out of reach. This FSU can team is the best shooting team we’ve seen in a while from Coach Hamilton.

And now, onto the plays.

Play 1

Scenario: 10:15 remaining in the first half

Devin Vassell has been playing with a ton of confidence recently, and it’s not hard to see it in his play.

His 8th point and 2nd 3-pointer of the game capped a 13-3 run for Florida State early in the game to go up 16-7, and you could tell Vassell was going to be on a different level all game. If he was going to be hitting shots with people running at him, or contested shots, nothing was going to get in his way.

I didn’t expect it to be 7/7 from 3 and 27 points on 10 shots kind of a different level, but I’m here for it.

Play 2

Scenario: 6:05 remaining in the game

Virginia Tech was coming off a 9-0 run that was punctuated with a thunderous dunk by Naheim Alleyne.

It would’ve been very easy for a team to wilt under the pressure, but FSU is no ordinary team. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, that’s what Isaac Newton said. Florida State’s reaction?

Meet Anthony Polite.

I was in the building, this completely shushed everyone in the arena. It went from loud and raucous to dead silent in seconds, and really killed the momentum VT had.

Play 3

Scenario: 2:50 remaining

At this point with FSU up 8 and just under 3 minutes left, I was telling myself “Just one more basket and I’ll feel good about nothing absurd happening.”

RaiQuan Gray quietly had a good game, and he finally uses his girth to bully somebody, get to the rim, and get an easy basket here. It was a tough finish, and I really hope he can start doing this more without drawing charges in the future.

Florida State is back in action on Monday against North Carolina, a team who has a horrible record but is going to give FSU a bad matchup. Check back here for more on that game Monday morning.

Leave a Reply