Atlanta, Ga. – Jason Rich's 998 and 999th career-point in a Florida State uniform came by way of a jumper he won't soon forget.
The senior guard hit a 14-foot jumper with four seconds left Sunday night against Georgia Tech to break a 64-64 tie and give the Seminoles a 66-64 victory in both team's conference opener.
Rich, who needed just 12 points entering the game to become the 39th player in FSU history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, sprinted the length of the floor with nine seconds remaining before pulling up for what would be the game-winning shot.
"We always try to have two or three options," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said about his team's final offensive set. "They took Toney (Douglas) away and we wanted to inbound the ball to Jason and get it back to Toney. Jason's job was, if he couldn't get it back to Toney, he had to come off the push.
"Luckily he was fortunate enough to get off a shot in an area where he is very effective."
Douglas may have not touched the ball on the Seminoles' game-winning play, but the redshirt junior point guard from nearby Jonesboro, Ga. set the tone and finished with a game-high 22 points. He also nabbed four steals.
The Seminoles (11-4, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) entered the game in Atlanta without much of a front-court as talented freshmen forwards Solomon Alabi and Julian Vaughn weren't cleared medically to suit up.
Alabi, a 7-foot-1 center, will have surgery Wednesday to repair a tibial stress fracture in his right leg and Vaughn is out indefinitely while undergoing medical testing. Both players had played in FSU's first 14 games before the showdown against the Yellow Jackets (6-6, 0-1). Vaughn had started seven of those.
"We did not know we were going to be as shorthanded as we were until practice on Friday," Hamilton said. "We already had one game plan in and we had to plan on the fly."
Hamilton's squad counteracted its lack of big bodies with bigger shots from a handful of guards. While Douglas led the way, Rich's 11 points and Ralph Mims' 10 kept the Seminoles in it until the end.
Forward Uche Echefu also added 11 points of his own.
Following a Mims basket that put the Seminoles on top 64-63 with 35 seconds remaining, Georgia Tech tied the game when guard D'Andre Bell connected on one of two free throws at the nine-second mark.
Following Rich's jumper, Zack Peacock's potential game-winning 3-pointer banged off the rim as time expired.
"Zack can shoot the 3 and I thought he had an OK look," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
Anthony Morrow led all Yellow Jackets players with 17 points. Bell and Jeremis Smith added 15 and nine points, respectively.
Georgia Tech looked like it was going to run away with things early, jumping out to a 12-2 lead three minutes into the game. But the hot shooting of a four-guard lineup for the Seminoles quickly squashed that notion as FSU hit seven 3-pointers to close out the half.
FSU took a 40-34 lead into the break with Douglas scoring 13 of those points.
"I've said all along that sometimes adversity has a way of bringing the best out of us and I thought that would happen today," Hamilton said. "We had no other choice. Our backs were against the wall."
FSU wins close one over GT
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