It's the worst kept secret in America.
If Florida State is tied or trailing in the final few seconds of a ballgame, Michael Snaer is going to take the shot. It's a given. Whether he's open or not, FSU's senior guard is going to square up and shoot for the victory. You know it's coming. You know that no matter how the play is drawn up, it's going to No. 21.
You also know one more important thing, and this is the part that stings if you're on the receiving end of one of these shots: it's going in.
It always does.
Maryland experienced that harsh reality Wednesday night at the Donald L. Tucker as "Big-Shot Mike" did what he does best: he rose, he fired and he connected as his 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left gave the Seminoles a 73-71 come-from-behind victory.
After hitting game-winners from the right side of the floor against Duke and Virginia Tech last season and then against Clemson six days ago, Snaer switched it up against the Terrapins (15-6, 3-5 ACC) and drilled this one from the left wing. Moments after Ian Miller curled off the right side and the defense collapsed around him as he drove in to the middle of the paint, the junior guard calmly found his clutch teammate for the wide open shot.
"I got a clean look tonight so I knew it was going in once it left my hand," Snaer said. "Ian put them in a bind because he got so deep and there was so little time left so you've got to go in a help. Ian has hit game winners himself so either one of us it doesn't matter, we can both hit them."
And when Maryland's desperation heave failed to connect, the 'Noles escaped with a much-needed conference victory that pushed them back above .500 in the league at 4-3 in the wake of a blowout loss at Miami. The Seminoles, who are 12-8 overall, now welcome Duke to Tallahassee for another critical conference contest. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. and there are limited premium seats still available.
"You knew he was going to make it," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He's made a lot of big ones."
Snaer finished the game with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 3-6 shooting from 3-point range. Okaro White added 14 points thanks to 10-for-10 shooting from the free-throw line and Miller contributed 10 of his own.
Boris Bojanovsky had eight points and Terry Whisnant II had seven. Michael Ojo had his best game as a Seminole, playing a career-best 14 minutes while adding two points and several never-before-seen hustle plays.
As a team, FSU shot 45.8 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from long distance.
Despite out-rebounding the 'Noles 36-20, shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and getting a few late-game big shots from Dez Wells, who poured in 19 points, the Terrapins still saw their eight-point second-half lead disappear in their second loss to FSU this season.
Credit FSU's forcing of Maryland to commit 16 turnovers with helping make that happen. The 'Noles also only had six giveaways of their own with 14 assists.
"Take care of the ball and have 14 assists and that's what Coach 'Ham' has been preaching ... we were really trying to share the ball," White said.
Trailing 62-54 midway through the second half, the Seminoles generated a 6-0 run to climb to within a 62-60 score before trading baskets with the visitors. Following a monster Kiel Turpin slam, Miller's jumper tied the game at 66-66 with 2:30 left to play.
Wells then hit a 3-pointer to put the Terps up before White grabbed a defensive rebound and Snaer's hook hit nothing but net and cut Maryland's advantage to 71-70 with 45 seconds left on the clock. The 'Noles then called a timeout to set up the game-winning play after White and Alex Len forced a jump-ball after the latter missed an alley-oop dunk attempt with the possession arrow facing the Florida State bench.
Len, who averages 13 points per game, was held to just four points by the stingy FSU defense.
Both teams were tied 34-34 at halftime.
"I think what made the difference tonight is a couple of things, obviously we didn't turn the ball over and give them a lot of extra possessions," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said, "and I thought we scripted things a little better for our players tonight and we were able to execute a little better and we attacked the basket a lot better off the dribble drive and had an opportunity to get to the foul line a little more to help neutralize the fact that we did a poor job defending them and they basically controlled the boards."