Noles Fend Off Visiting Hokies

FSU men's basketball team picks up first conference win of season in 74-68 victory over Virginia Tech

"I said at the beginning of the year that I think that the league is set up now where you can't tell what's going to happen from night to night," he said. "Any time you play a team in the ACC, you have to be prepared to play for 40 minutes."

And it was those sentiments that rang true in a hard fought 74-68 victory by the Seminoles (10-2, 1-1 ACC) over visitng Virginia Tech (10-5, 0-2 ACC) Saturday night in a game that ended with a strong showing in the final minute by the home squad.

Trailing by eight points with just over five minutes remaining, the Hokies managed to do exactly what they had made a habit of doing the entire game, cutting an FSU lead to just a basket.

After Hokies guard Zabian Dowdell knocked down two free throws to cut the Garnet and Gold lead to 68-66 with less than a minute remaining, Virginia Tech sent FSU sophomore guard Isaiah Swann to the line where the Maryland native promptly converted on both of his foul shots.

Tech answered, however, as forward Coleman Collins dunk with 26 seconds remaining cut the Seminole lead to just a basket once more. This time, it was sophomore guard Ralph Mims who was sent to the line and, just as his teammate had done a few seconds earlier, he too converted both attempts to push the FSU lead back to four points.

"I felt confident," said Mims, who has been the Tribe's most reliable free throw shooter this season.

Forward Andrew Wilson then iced the game for the Seminoles with two successful free throws with just six seconds left to play. The sixth-year senior accomplished this feat after stealing the ball from Hokies leading scorer Wynton Withserspoon, who notched 19 points in the losing effort, on the previous possession.

For the game, the Tribe was 80 percent from the foul line after shooting 53 percent from the charity stripe earlier in the week in the sloppy conference-opening loss to Clemson in South Carolina.

"This was a very hard fought game by both teams tonight," Hamilton said. "I thought that we were able to protect the ball and hit our free throws and rebound down the stretch and I thought that was the biggest difference in the game."

Forward Al Thornton led the way for the Seminoles, who never trailed in the game. The third-year swingman posted his fifth double-double of the season with game highs in points (21) and rebounds (12).

The strong play by the Georgia native was enough to garner praise from Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg.

"He's a (power forward) with a (small forward) skill set," he said. "He's got a very good feel for getting to the 50-50 balls."

The Seminoles took a 34-26 lead into the halftime break after leading by 14 with 7:29 left in the fist half.

Junior forward Alexander Johnson contributed with 10 points, six rebounds and three steals while Wilson added 14 points of his own.

FSU now hits the road for a two-game swing with matchups against Virginia Wednesday and Boston College Saturday. The Tribe welcomes the defending national champion North Carolina Tarheels to the Donald L. Tucker Center Jan. 22.

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