Previewing Florida State

Once again, logic went out the window with Florida State.

The Seminoles' saved it for their Houdini act.

After baffling their fans and showing their worst side Thursday, the Seminoles somehow seized a chance to dazzle in the final 90 seconds to escape with a stunning 48-47 victory against Virginia Tech that continues their push toward winning the ACC title.

Michael Snaer, who was among the players in a shooting funk all night, connected on a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left to win the game.

Go figure? Don't even try.

All that matters is Florida State (18-7, 9-2 ACC) will head to North Carolina State, which lost a lead and the game at Duke on Thursday night, for a Saturday game that can improve its position in the ACC standings and NCAA Tournament seeding.

The Seminoles remain tied with Duke and North Carolina with 9-2 ACC records. They have a game left with Duke on Feb. 23 that might decide first place. However, they have to try to put together a better performance on Saturday when they face the Wolfpack (18-8, 7-4).

"I was pleased for our kids, but in my mind I was thinking, 'Gosh, we dodged a bullet tonight,'" Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Let's not take this for granted, and let's come back and get better prepared for Saturday's game."

If only he could will that approach into his team. The Seminoles have not played back-to-back complete games this month. They did everything wrong against Virginia Tech, except they won. They didn't shoot well, pass well, play well. They trailed by nine points with 75 seconds left.

And then everything went right. From about the same point on the floor where he spotted up to deliver a walk-off 3-pointer to stun Duke, Snaer did it again.

"Jeff (Peterson) looked over and passed it, and I just let it fly," said Snaer, who had missed his first three 3-point attempts of the night. "I didn't think about nothing. I just let it fly."

TRENDING: Since taking over the team in 2002, coach Leonard Hamilton has taken Florida State from basketball purgatory the previous four years into national relevance.

In their history, the Seminoles have never reached the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, but they will this year, barring a major collapse. They had only two winning conference records -- the first two years in the league -- until Thursday's win assured the fourth in a row, the fifth in seven years.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at N.C. State, Feb. 18
KEY MATCHUPS:
This will be a difficult road game for the Seminoles. They will be facing the surprise team of the ACC. N.C. State has already attained its best conference record (7-4) in six seasons at this point. In FSU's favor, however, is the fact the Wolfpack will be coming off an emotional showdown with neighboring rival Duke on Thursday in Cameron Indoor Stadium and won't have much time to recover for a Saturday game.

The Wolfpack boast five of the ACC's top scorers, led by guard Scott Wood. Inside, forward Richard Howell is third in the ACC in offensive and defensive rebounding. None of the Seminoles' three remaining ACC road games (N.C. State, Miami, Virginia) are easy, but they are going to need at least one win, then hold serve at home to have any chance at finishing atop the ACC standings.

FUTURES MARKET: Guard Ian Miller produced one of his most solid games in league play, scoring 11 points vs. Miami, including 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and had only one turnover. He has to be able to contribute, especially with Luke Loucks and Deividas Dulkys struggle from the field. This followed Miller's 12-point effort against Boston College, giving him seven double-figure scoring nights this season.

PLAYER NOTES
-- Junior G Michael Snaer was just 3-for-10 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point range prior to hitting the game-winner in Thursday's 48-47 victory over Virginia Tech. He finished with nine points.

-- Senior C Bernard James and junior F Xavier Gibson combined to score seven points against the smaller Tech frontcourt. That should be the most alarming stat for the Seminoles as they review game film. James did not play well against Boston College, either, which is puzzling from a team captain.

-- Sophomore G Ian Miller is continuing his push for more playing time, scoring in double figures (11 points) for a second consecutive game Thursday. He added two assists and one steal.


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