TALLAHASSEE --The 18th-ranked Georgia Tech basketball team hasn't blown many center-stage opportunities this season, beating fellow Atlantic Coast Conference powers Duke, North Carolina and Clemson. Florida State remains the noted exception.
The Yellow Jackets had a one-point lead and ball possession with 24 seconds remaining, but squandered it and lost 68-66 Sunday in front of a crowd of 8,661 at the Donald L. Tucker Center. It was Tech's fifth consecutive defeat to the Seminoles, including two this season.
“I thought we had a couple opportunities to give ourselves a cushion there, but we didn’t make a play or didn’t execute a play,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. “Obviously, they took advantage.”
Tech (14-5, 3-3 ACC) appeared to be in control when, leading 66-65, FSU’s Ryan Reid committed an offensive foul, sending Zachery Peacock to the free throw line for a one-and-one with 24 seconds remaining. Peacock, however, missed the shot, and Glen Rice, Jr. fouled Solomon Alabi on the rebound. With FSU in the double bonus, the Seminoles’ 7-foot-1 center knocked down both shots to give the Seminoles a 67-66 lead. A later foul shot by Jordan Demercy provided the winning margin.
“That last foul was probably my fault," Hewitt said. "I told Glen to maybe anticipate some sort of (play) if it was a miss, grab it and shoot it or just tip it back out. Maybe a little overaggressive. Probably should have told him just to play it straight up and just take our chances on defense.”
On the subsequent Jackets possession, freshman Brian Oliver, who finished with a career-high 20 points, missed a 3-point attempt, only to have the ball come back to him after an offensive rebound. Oliver pulled up for another 3, but Hewitt called for a timeout before the shot dropped through the hoop.
“That was heartbreaking, because when I missed the first one, I said, ‘You know what, I know exactly what I did wrong on that, so if I get another chance, I’m going to make it,’” said Oliver, who made 6 of 13 shots from beyond the arc. “And then when I made it, it was a timeout called. But sometimes that’s just how the game goes.”
Tech’s leading scorer, junior Nani Lawal, was held to just 1-of-5 shooting from the floor, and finished with five points. Lawal, who came into the game averaging 15.3 points per game, has scored only two field goals in two games this season against FSU.
Derrick Favors and Iman Shumpert each scored 10 points for the Yellow Jackets, who shot 42.6 percent (23-of-54) from the field, 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
Former Dunwoody High standout Chris Singleton topped the Seminoles (15-4, 3-2 ACC) with a career-high 23 points and seven rebounds.
“A small forward his size, and (with) his ability to put the ball on the floor, he can be a matchup problem,” Hewitt said of Singleton. “Obviously, for him, it was a great afternoon for him.”
The Yellow Jackets will attempt to bounce back Thursday, when they host Wake Forest at 7 p.m.
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