Notre Dame basketball edged by Florida State 76-74
By KAREEM COPELAND Associated Press January 21, 2014 11:22PM
Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton heads up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 70-63 with Connaughton leading all scorers with 21 points. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
Updated: January 21, 2014 11:22PM
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Coach Leonard Hamilton didn’t call the final play for Ian Miller, but the Florida State senior wasn’t giving up the rock with the game on the line.
Miller stood at the top of the key with the final moments of the second half melting away during a tie game against Notre Dame before driving into the teeth of the Fighting Irish zone and putting up a floater in the lane.
Miller hit the hop-step floater with 4 seconds remaining to give Florida State a 76-74 win against Notre Dame in their first meeting as Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
“Whenever that time comes, you’ve just got to be ready and embrace it and stay calm, don’t panic,” Miller said. “If I would have missed, I would have been too pissed. We work on that every day.
“Coach says I’m his best offensive player. Basically I just want coach to give it to me. Live and die with me. Congrats to Coach Ham.”
Aaron Thomas scored 20 points in his first start of the season as Florida State held on. Miller finished with 11 points and the biggest bucket of the game. Teammate Okaro White chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Eric Atkins led Notre Dame with 24 points while teammate Garrick Sherman finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Florida State should have been able to put the game away after shooting 58 percent from the floor and a 10-point lead with 7:55 left. But the Seminoles couldn’t get stops in the second half. Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton hit a layup with 34 seconds left to tie at 74-74.
Then it was Miller time.
The Seminoles took a time out and left Miller isolated at the top of the key while the Fighting Irish sat in a zone. Miller passed the ball twice and got it right back before driving into the teeth of the defense and flipping up a floater in the paint to win the game with 4 seconds left.
“He hit a tough shot,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “You’ve got to give a really good player a lot of credit for knocking down a big shot at a key time.”
The Seminoles (13-5, 4-2) have won 8 of 10 with both losses against Virginia. Florida State hits the road Saturday to take on No. 18 Duke.
Notre Dame (11-8, 2-4) has gone 1-4 since upsetting Duke. The Fighting Irish face Wake Forest Saturday.
The Seminoles couldn’t miss from behind the arc in the first half, hitting 5 of 7. That left Florida State 24 of 40 combined in their last two games at home.
The Florida State offense ran through 7-footers Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo early, but it was the long-ball that kept Notre Dame on its heels throughout the half. Twelve offensive rebounds, however, gave the Fighting Irish extra possessions throughout the game. Notre Dame outrebounded Florida State 29-26.
“We did not get the ball inside nearly as much as we had planned,” Hamilton said. “We kind of lived by the jump shot a little too much and we (had a stretch) where we were not hitting and gave them an opportunity to get back in the game.
“Anytime you can win a game in the ACC at this time of the year, you have to be very grateful.”
Notre Dame cut the score to 63-57 with less than 10 minutes to play when Bojanovsky took a charge that left Brey livid. He was called for a technical foul and the Seminoles stretched a six-point lead to 10.
White didn’t start for the first time all season for Florida State. He was reprimanded before the game by the ACC for conduct at the end of the 78-66 loss at Virginia. Thomas started in his place and White checked in at the 16:35 mark of the first half.
“I’m getting more comfortable offensively,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to do what I can.”