Rushed Reactions: #9 Florida State 75, #1 Xavier 70

Posted by David Changas on March 19th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. David Changas (@dchangas) is in Nashville this weekend. 

Three Key Takeaways.

Florida State pulled off the second improbable comeback of the day in Nashville. (Christopher Hanewinkel, USA Today)

  1. There are no words, Part II. Okay, so this wasn’t a 22-point meltdown but it had to feel just as bad for Xavier Nation. The top-seeded Musketeers led by 12 points midway through the second half, and by nine when Chris Mack decided to take JP Macura out after the senior picked up his fourth foul. That proved to be a mistake. By the time Macura returned four and a half minutes later, the lead had dwindled to just two points with just over four minutes remaining. An 11-2 run for Florida State over the final 3:11 ultimately gave the Seminoles the five-point win. They led for a total of only one minute in the second half, but it was enough to complete the stunning comeback against the region’s top seed.
  2. A bad day for the city of Cincinnati. What happened here in Nashville today borders on the unfathomable. Had we not seen the first #16 over a #1 upset in the history of the sport two days ago, we certainly would be saying that two high seeds blowing substantial double-digit leads midway through the second half is the craziest thing in years. Both games had the feel of being decided well into their second halves, in large part because neither Nevada nor Florida State looked to be offensively in sync or capable of erasing such large deficits. It will take a long time for these two Cincinnati-based programs to recover from the March 18, 2018, disaster, and it’s fair to say that fans of both schools won’t want to see Nashville again for a very long time.
  3. Florida State’s balance was impressive. The Seminoles did not shoot the ball particularly well tonight – just 43.6 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from behind the arc – but they did have five players in double figures, led by 16 from Braian Angola. More importantly, though, was their ability to come at Xavier in waves on the defensive end. Their quickness and athleticism caused problems for the Musketeers all night long, and they were able to force them into 17 turnovers as a result. They also held Xavier, which came into tonight’s game with the nation’s seventh-best offense, to only 46.9 percent shooting. Florida State’s ability to pull off the upset without playing at its best is a tribute both to its athleticism and depth of its roster.

Player of the Game. PJ Savoy, Florida State. Savoy played only 18 minutes but ended the night 3-of-5 from three-point range, including the biggest shot of the game to give his team a 71-70 lead with 1:08 left. He then went to the line with 21 seconds remaining and his team clinging to a one-point lead and knocked down both free throws.

Quotable.

  • “I wanted to see what the defender was going to do. He backed up, and I let it fly.” Florida State’s PJ Savoy, on the go-ahead three he hit with just over a minute remaining.
  • “I don’t think you can call them upsets, as much as you can just call them ‘March Madness.’” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, on the wackiness of this NCAA Tournament.
  • “The reason we’re not moving on: turnovers on our part, caused by tremendous pressure from Florida State.” Xavier coach Chris Mack.

Sights and Sounds. Xavier fans clearly outnumbered the Florida State contingent here in Nashville, but when it became clear that the Seminoles were going to pull it out, the FSU War Chant made Bridgestone Arena sound like a miniature version of Doak-Campbell Stadium.

What’s Next. Florida State gets the unenviable task of heading to Los Angeles to play defending national runner-up and West Region #4 Gonzaga on Thursday night. The winner of that game will get either Michigan or Texas A&M in the regional final, so it is fair to say the West is wide open.

David Changas (157 Posts)


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