FSU Holds Off Wake

Freshman Snaer Ices Game For ‘Noles

By Brett Jula, Palestra.net

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –The scenario was familiar, but Michael Snaer made sure the outcome was different from Florida State’s heartbreaking loss at home to Clemson three days earlier.

With his team ahead by two points and only four seconds remaining, Snaer calmly sank two free throws to propel the Seminoles (21-8, 9-6 ACC) to a critical 51-47 win over Wake Forest Wednesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

Just like in the Clemson game, Florida State had the lead and the ball with under a minute to play. Instead of surrendering back-to-back three-pointers to lose that lead like they did against the Tigers, the Seminole defense buckled down and assured the 8,000-plus fans in attendance there would be no such encore. Snaer’s free throws just proved to be the icing on the cake.

“I knew I was going to make those free throws,” Snaer said. “I believed in myself and knew I was going to make them because there was no possible way we were going to let this game slip away.”

Despite only having four field goals in the second half, the Seminoles found a way to keep their hopes of receiving a first-round bye in next week’s ACC Tournament alive with yet another outstanding defensive effort and quality free-throw shooting down the stretch from Snaer and his teammates.

“I don’t remember a game I’ve coached where we scored four field goals in the second half and won,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought what really made the difference was (Wake Forest) was so aggressive and put us on the foul line, and we hit the necessary free throws that I felt really kept them at bay.”

The 47 points for Wake Forest (18-9, 8-7) – losers now of four straight – was a season-low, and star forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who averages a double-double for the season, was held scoreless for the first time in his career and fouled out with 5:51 left in the game.

Florida State’s mantra has been defense all season, as they lead the ACC in scoring defense at 60.2 points per game, but their performance at that end of the floor has been taken up a few levels recently.

In their last five games, the Seminoles are giving up a meager 52.8 points per contest, which has led to four victories during that span.

Wednesday’s win for Florida State had its offensive heroes as well. Snaer, only a freshman and playing his best basketball of the season when the Seminoles need it most, scored a team-high 14 points to go along with four rebounds.

Florida State also got a boost from sophomore center Xavier Gibson, who provided 10 huge points off the bench and also played a critical role in shutting down Aminu.

“We needed this win,” Gibson said. “And I just wanted to make an impact because we really needed this game.”

The victory guaranteed Florida State a winning record in conference play. With a win Saturday at Miami, the ’Noles will have notched 10 ACC wins in consecutive years for the first time in school history and all but assure themselves a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“The coaches told us it’s time to keep the feet on the gas pedal – you’re never too safe in the ACC,” Gibson said. “There’s a lot of good teams and the records are so close together. We’ve got to make sure we go down to Miami and take care of business.”