Tech traveled to Tallahassee this past Sunday to face Florida State (FSU) for the second time this season. The Seminoles, who shut down Tech’s frontcourt in their overtime victory in Atlanta last month, held senior forward Gani Lawal to just five points on their way to a 68-66 victory.
FSU jumped out to an early lead, scoring eight unanswered points to open the game. Tech responded with a 13-2 run over the next two and a half minutes, putting them in front 13-10 with 14:07 to play.
Freshman guard Brian Oliver led the charge for the Jackets, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc to account for nine points during the run. Oliver, who led the Jackets in the scoring department, went 6-for-13 from three-point range on his way to a career-high 20 points.
Over the next five minutes, Tech extended their advantage to 23-16, but the Seminoles hit four straight field goals to retake the lead at 24-23. Sophomore forward Chris Singleton, who finished the game with a team-high 23 points, initiated the run with a layup followed by a dunk off of a fast break.
The teams swapped leads six times in the remaining five minutes, finishing the half tied at 34-34 following a dunk by Lawal.
In the second half, Tech jumped ahead on two free throws from sophomore guard Iman Shumpert, but FSU countered with a layup from Singleton and a pair of foul shots from sophomore center Solomon Alabi to take a 47-44 lead with 13:39 to play. As it turns out, Alabi’s free throw shooting would play a major role for the Seminoles down the stretch.
After several more lead changes, FSU’s Singleton hit the first of two free throws to tie the game at 65 with just 2:40 remaining. Just over a minute later a Seminole foul put Shumpert at the line with a chance to give the Jackets a two point advantage, but he only hit the second of his two shots, putting Tech up by one with 1:27 remaining.
FSU missed a shot on their possession, but a missed Tech three-pointer gave them the ball right back with a chance to retake the lead. Seminole senior forward Ryan Reid tried to take the ball down the lane, but Tech senior forward Zachery Peacock stepped up and took a charge. The Jackets were already in the bonus, so the offensive foul call put Peacock at the line shooting one-and-one.
With just 24 seconds remaining, Peacock missed the front-end of the one-and-one. Several players jockeyed for position in the paint, but Alabi came down with the defensive board.
In the midst of the struggle for the rebound, Tech freshman guard Glen Rice Jr. got called for a foul. Since the Seminoles had reached the double bonus, Alabi, who has shot 83 percent on free throws, went to the line for two shots.
His first shot bounced up above the rim, but came straight down through the basket to tie the score at 66-66. Alabi then hit the second to give Florida State the edge with 22 seconds left.
Tech inbounded the ball and pushed it past half-court, passing it to Oliver for a three-pointer to give them the lead. Oliver missed, but Bell recovered the rebound and Tech head coach Paul Hewitt quickly called a time-out.
Coming out of the break, the Jackets got the ball to Lawal, who missed a mid-range jump shot with five seconds left. A Seminole rebound and a Tech foul allowed Florida State to add another free throw, effectively ending the game and giving the Seminoles a 68-66 victory.
“Florida State played well,” Hewitt said in a Monday teleconference. “We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but were unable to pull it out.”
Tech outrebounded the Seminoles 34-31 and held Florida State to just 21.1 percent from behind the arc, but the Jackets had 20 turnovers and 24 fouls and hit just half of their free throws in the game. Favors had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but the Seminoles won most of the battles inside. Singleton had a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds, while Alabi posted 14 points and seven rebounds while going six-for-six on free throws.
Following last night’s game against Wake Forest, which ended too late for press, the Jackets will remain at home to face a Kentucky State team coached by former Tech basketball player Clarence Moore on Saturday. Tech will then have four days off before a rematch with No. 8 Duke at Cameroon Indoor Stadium on Thursday.