The Virginia-Florida State top 25 basketball showdown Saturday featured two clutch 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the Seminoles’ shot came second and they escaped John Paul Jones Arena with a 60-58 win.
Freshman Kyle Guy hit a corner 3-pointer on a designed play for UVA (11-2, 1-1 ACC) with 8.8 seconds remaining, but Dwayne Bacon created a triple of his own without a timeout for FSU (14-2, 2-0) with only 2.0 seconds on the clock. A final heave by London Perrantes appeared on line, but came up short for the Hoos.
Bacon said after the game the Seminoles never even considered a timeout to set up a final play.
“No. In a situation like that, which we work on in practice a lot, if you call a timeout that gives them a shot to set their defense,” Bacon said. “The ball was on the run, the floor was spread, and we could not have had a better opportunity than what we had. I was afraid that if I called a timeout, as good as a defensive team as they have, that would not have been a very good decision.”
The sophomore didn’t need the timeout. Sprinting out of the corner after contesting Guy’s go-ahead shot, Bacon took the inbounds pass and quickly turned up the floor. He dribbled up the left side of the center channel, sized up defender Isaiah Wilkins, accelerated briefly, and then pulled out a step-back jumper on the left wing for the winning 3-pointer.
Wilkins did not have the Bacon assignment at any other point in the game, but appeared to pick him on the inbounds pass after positioning for a potential offensive rebound. Devon Hall, who handled the Bacon responsibility for much of the day, dropped back in defensive balance on Guy’s shot. That switch appeared to leave the Hoos just vulnerable enough for Bacon to dictate the type of shot he got. Even so, Wilkins still recovered on the step-back attempt to contest the look.
It didn’t help that Bacon had built up plenty of confidence by that final shot. He scored 29 points in the game on 11-of-18 shooting. That included 6-of-9 shooting from 3- point range. The rest of FSU’s rotation made just 9 of 31 shots with only Xavier Rathan-Mayes reaching double figures with 10 points.
“I think [Bacon] is a special player,” Cavalier coach Tony Bennett said. “The shot he hit at the end of the game from my vantage point was pretty contested and tough, and he just rose up and that is elite scoring. I will have to watch the replay. I think a few times he rejected a ball screen and maybe we were not tight enough on him to make him try to make a play, but he is capable both ways. He has a mid-range game, he can get to the rim and then when his stroke is on like that, with his size, you can see why he has that kind of reputation.”
The Seminoles needed Bacon’s final shot to eke out the victory because Guy delivered his own clutch shot seconds earlier. Trailing by two points, Bennett decided to go for the win by designing a play that set up Guy for a corner 3-pointer. He had missed from that corner just moments earlier on a different designed concept, but this time when Perrantes drove the baseline and fired the pass to Guy coming off a screen, he knocked it down.
Guy finished with 14 points behind 4-of-7 shooting from downtown. He’s landed in double figures in four of the past five games and missed the fifth one by one point at Louisville.
“I knew that the drift play that we ran was going to be open because we already ran it three times and it was open every time,” Guy said. “I knew I just had to knock down the shot. When it went in, we were all hype but we knew we had to get back because it kind of caught me off guard, they just passed it in. I thought they would call timeout or something. Dwayne [Bacon] got it and he made a heck of a play.”
Perrantes, Hall, and Marial Shayok all chipped in 10 points each as well. Despite the balanced effort and 45.1% shooting overall, however, the Hoos didn’t have the consistency needed to overcome Bacon’s hot hand. They committed more turnovers than assists for the second straight game, finishing with 8 assists and 13 turnovers. Perrantes led the way with 4 assists and 4 turnovers, giving him 9 turnovers in the past two games combined. The Virginia Sports Radio Network indicated during the postgame show that represented the most he’s ever had in two back-to-back games.
That all adds up to a 1-1 start in ACC play, which after Saturday’s games looks to be as challenging as promised. No. 5 Duke fell to Virginia Tech and No. 9 North Carolina lost against Georgia Tech on the final day of 2016 as well. No. 24 Notre Dame escaped Pittsburgh in overtime as well.
The rugged reputation of the league was not lost on the Hoos after their disappointing finish.
“The first thing I said to our team when we walked into the locker room was ‘Welcome to the ACC,’” Bennett said. “I said, ‘If you are not right, and you are not executing all of the way through, you will not be successful.’ That is why in those games, if you can get them, you take them. Obviously, Louisville, we went in there and got a win. Florida State, they came in here, and that is a talented offensive group. You are just going to be have to be ready to play at home or away.”