FSU shows heart in win over Virginia

Bernard James' second-half ejection was supposed to be the beginning of the end for the Seminoles on the road at Virginia. Instead, FSU rallied around the big man's exit and shocked the Cavaliers.

Call them the "heartbreakers" or the "cardiac kids."

Regardless of what nickname one chooses to describe this season's Florida State Seminoles, it should almost certainly have something to do with heart.

There is simply no other way to define the Seminoles' latest victory over Virginia, as Florida State appeared to be dead in the water late in the second half.

Entering the final 20 minutes, FSU had maintained a 29-20 lead, but suddenly things started to spiral out of control. A quick 18-4 run from the Cavaliers gave them the lead, and it was an advantage it appeared they wouldn't relinquish.

That is until Bernard James had an impact on the game in a way nobody thought was plausible.

James picked up a flagrant-2 foul with less than five minutes to play, which resulted in an immediate rejection. The 6-10 senior was thrown out for kicking Virginia guard Joe Harris following a collision between the two near midcourt.

With no James for the rest of the game, it had been assumed the night would only get worse for Florida State.

However, it only seemed to light a fire within.

"It was like, 'It's on now,'" said guard Michael Snaer. "They shouldn't have ever threw BJ out of the game. We're a fuel team. We're an angry team, and when we're angry, we can hurt you."

Those who watch the replay can decide whether the officials should or shouldn't have thrown James out of the game. It appears the Savannah, Georgia, native's foot may have held up before it made contact with Harris, but it's difficult to determine.

Nonetheless, losing the forward's talent inspired the 'Noles instead of discouraging them. FSU trailed by nine as James exited, and the Virginia lead would extend to 11 before the improbable occurred.

With less than five minutes to play, Florida State started to lock in and eliminate the mistakes that had plagued it much of the contest. The Seminoles had turned the ball over 18 times on the night but didn't commit one in the final five minutes of play.

Virginia started to make key errors of its own that included an offensive foul on an inbounds play and a few missed free throws.

Then, Ian Miller got hot. Very hot.

The sophomore guard finished with 18 points and connected on 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, including a dagger trey with less than a second on the clock that might have been the biggest shot of Miller's career.

Miller's threes are what will be remembered, but it was something that can't be seen on the court that helped end Florida State's two-game slide.


Trailing by double digits with its most talented big man in the locker room, the ‘Noles could've mailed it in. With essentially nothing to play for and a bye in next weekend's ACC tournament secured, the Seminoles were still determined to right the ship after Sunday's disappointing effort against Miami.

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"We have a lot of fight in us. We have a lot of players who can step up," said senior Deividas Dulkys. "It's not one individual player. It's just different guys doing different things. That's what we're known for."

They might become better known for their late-game heroics.

Thursday's contest was the third time this season that FSU has hit a game-winning shot with less than three seconds to play. The two previous happened in outings against Duke and Virginia Tech. The victory also gave the Seminoles 20 wins for the fourth consecutive season.

With March Madness just around the corner, the ‘Noles are happy that the madness in their season continued so early in the month.

Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.

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