Barnes clutch layup helps FSU survive in overtime win vs. Wake Forest
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With 5.4 seconds left to play in regulation, No. 19 Florida State trailed Wake Forest 80-78. Ian DuBose had just missed the first of two free throws, giving the Seminoles a chance to send the game to overtime with a 2.
RaiQuan Gray inbounded the ball to Scottie Barnes along the right sideline about a quarter of the way up the court. Rather than pressuring Barnes in the backcourt, Wake Forest decided not to pick him up until he reached the nose of the Seminoles’ midcourt logo.
Once Ody Oguama met him up top, Barnes made a subtle hesitation dribble with his left hand, took two more dribbles to get past his man and kissed a sweet up and under layup off the glass with his right hand to tie the game at 80 with a tenth of a second remaining.
“Scottie is very quick and fast with the ball, he finishes with those long arms,” head coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game. “We were very fortunate to finish that play and put us into overtime.”
Barnes had shot just 2-of-9 from the field up to that point in the game. One of his other two made field goals in regulation came just before time expired in the first half, where he picked up a loose ball and converted the Wake Forest turnover into a slam at the other end to send the Seminoles into the locker room.
Florida State (11-3, 7-2 ACC) then took control in overtime, outscoring Wake Forest (6-9, 3-9 ACC) 12-5 in the final five minutes to win 92-85 and win its 23rd straight ACC home game.
Overall, Saturday was one of Barnes’ worst offensive games of the season. The Seminoles’ second-leading scorer finished with 13 points but shot just 4-of-12 from the field, missed all three of his 3-point attempts and shot only 5-of-8 from the free throw line. However, the 6-foot-9 five-star freshman continues to find new ways to make his presence felt. Even though he struggled to score throughout the afternoon, he made arguably the two most important shots of the game.
Barnes is the highest-rated recruit that Hamilton has ever signed in his 19-year tenure at Florida State. He will almost certainly be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, should he decide to enter.
It’s been well-documented that Hamilton has reshaped Barnes into primarily a point guard this season after he mostly played power forward at Montverde Academy alongside Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the draft.
Barnes’ inexperience playing the point has been evident at times. His passing instincts have always been advanced for his size and youth, but with a jump shot and pick-and-roll game that still need refinement, he’s sometimes struggled to take care of the ball.
Despite his poor shooting numbers Saturday, his decision-making was nearly flawless at the point as he finished with four assists and zero turnovers. It was only the second time this season that he had no turnovers in a game. The first instance was back on Jan. 13 against NC State, but he played just 13 minutes in that one. Against Wake Forest, he logged 33 minutes.
With his versatility on both ends, there is a case to be made that Barnes has been Florida State’s most valuable player this season. The freshman just continues to get better as the season progresses.
Here are a few other quick observations from Saturday’s game.
Gray’s dominant afternoon
Balsa Koprivica unexpectedly was not in the lineup Saturday afternoon. Without the mobile seven-footer, the Seminoles had a gaping void in the frontcourt.
Hamilton had Malik Osborne and Tanor Ngom trade early minutes at the center spot in place Koprivica. However, by 13:06 left in the first half Osborne and Ngom had each picked up their second foul and were sent to the bench for the rest of the half.
That left Gray to handle the interior on his own until the break. In response, he scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the opening frame and was a monster on the glass with eight rebounds. Three of those eight rebounds were on the offensive glass and all three of them led to a second-chance basket for him.
Gray finished the game with 24 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games. He was also a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe with eight of those coming in the second half and overtime.
“He was battling inside, got some tough rebounds, especially when you don’t have Balsa and you have your other two 7-footers on the bench in foul trouble, he was our big guy,” Hamilton said of Gray. “He stepped up tonight. Gave us a major contribution with 12 rebounds and 24 points. Hit his free throws, 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
Wake Forest’s frontcourt quartet of Oguama, Isaiah Mucius, Ismael Massoud and Emmanuel Okpomo combined for just 14 points in 64 total minutes. Gray deserves plenty of credit there.
Perhaps most impressive though was how prolifically he drew fouls beginning with about five minutes left in regulation.
With 4:35 left in the second half, he made a strong drive from the left wing and forced Okpomo into his fifth foul. Then with 4:20 left to go in overtime, he got the ball off a nice backdoor cut from the top of the key and gave DuBose his fifth foul. Finally, with 2:13 left in overtime, he drove left on Oguama, spun back to his right and forced the Wake big man into his fifth foul. To sum up, he singlehandedly caused three different Wake Forest players to foul out of the game in a span of about seven crucial minutes.
The fact that he didn’t miss a single free throw made it all the more impactful.
Koprivica’s absence looms large
Hamilton said after the game that Koprivica did not play Saturday because he turned his ankle during warmups.
Without him, Florida State needed a herculean effort from Gray to survive at home against a team near the bottom of the ACC standings.
The Seminoles shot an efficient 52% from the field in the first half, including 5-of-11 on 3s. That helped open things up for Gray inside.
In the second half, however, Wake Forest did a much better jump clamping down on Gray, limiting him to just three field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes. The Demon Deacons also allowed him to corral just one offensive rebound in the second half, compared to three in the first.
When that happened, Florida State became heavily reliant on the 3-point shot. The Seminoles shot an impressive 7-of-13 from deep in the final 20 minutes but went just 6-of-18 on 2-point field goals in the second half and overtime combined.
Koprivica’s value as a pick-and-roll big man and a gravity interior presence provides a ton of value on the offensive end. Because he’s such a big target and has great mobility for his size, he forces the defense to choose between letting him go 1-on-1 inside or kick out to open shooters if he’s doubled.
Koprivica’s presence would also help take some of the burden off Gray, who played 37 minutes Saturday. His absence wasn’t enough to take down the Seminoles this time, but they need Koprivica to get healthy quickly because they are a much better team with him in the lineup.
Tale of two halves
As has been mostly the case this season, Florida State started hot and outscored Wake Forest 41-31 in the first half. The only time the Seminoles have not won the first half this season was against Georgia Tech two weeks ago.
They finished the opening frame on a 15-2 run and allowed just 14 points in the final 14:35. They certainly did not look particularly rusty for a team that hadn’t played a game in 14 days.
In the second half, Anthony Polite, who played in his first game since Jan. 16 after being out with a shoulder injury, made a 3 to put Florida State up 60-47 with 12:47 left to play in regulation.
Polite was a difference-maker in his return He played 30 minutes, scoring 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting (3-of-7 3s) with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
“He is probably our best on-the-ball defender. Now he is extremely confident in his jump-shooting ability. He makes good decisions. He is a strong, physical presence on the court. Great teammate. Great in the huddle. Knowledgeable about our system,” Hamilton said of Polite. “He is always on-point with our game plan. Has a high basketball IQ. He is a pure Seminole through his heart. I’ve enjoyed coaching him. We’re a lot better when he is healthy.”
After Florida State took its largest lead of the game, the Demon Deacons went on a tear, making 6-of-8 3s in that half. Much of the damage came from Joel Antonio, who made four of his seven 3s for the game in the second half. He scored a career-high 23 points.
There were a couple of times Florida State lost sight of him in transition, which gave him just enough room to get his shot off, but it was mostly just a spectacular performance from the senior guard.
Saturday marked the second game in a row Florida State was outscored in the second half. The Seminoles found a way to win in the end, but with the ACC’s top team in No. 9 Virginia coming to town on Monday night, the Seminoles cannot afford a repeat of Saturday’s second-half performance against the Cavaliers. That game will be at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
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