On Senior Day, the Virginia Cavaliers dropped a devastating game to the Florida State Seminoles on a tear-jerking buzzer-beater from Mathew Cleveland. The ‘Hoos appeared to be in control for 36 minutes or so but simply couldn’t hold on when they needed to most.
A late collapse is unacceptable
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. Or at least it was until Florida State came roaring back in the final few minutes of play. Mistakes piled up as the Seminoles hit shots. Armaan Franklin had an opportunity to extend the Virginia lead to three points with twelve seconds left. But, his miss meant that Mathew Cleveland was able to tie the game at 61 apiece with six seconds left.
Franklin made up for his mistake as he streaked down the full court and hit a clutch midrange jumper to pull UVA back up by two with a sole second on the clock.
Yet, a perfect pass from Harrison Prieto to Cleveland set up the freshman for a shocking turnaround triple that gave Florida State just its second win in a month. The ramifications of this loss are significant, but that shouldn’t outweigh just how frustrating a collapse this was for Virginia.
The ‘Hoos had a 10-point lead at the 3:26 point in the second half and then had a nine-point advantage with 2:19 remaining and to lose like that is not evident of a team that deserves to make the NCAA Tournament.
This really goes back to the inconsistencies that have plagued this group all season as in one game Virginia can compete with a top-10 team and then the next they fall to a struggling Florida State group. Letting a team like the Seminoles stay in the game is playing with fire and tonight the ‘Hoos got burned.
It’s ACC Tourney or bust
There’s no sugar-coating this loss. It just abot ends any hope of Virginia making the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid. By beating FSU, Louisville, and then making noise in the ACC Tournament there was still the potential that the ‘Hoos could build a resume deserving of a low seed.
But, now, it’s going to take winning the ACC Tournament and earning the automatic bid for UVA to be playing in March Madness. Talk of the bubble can cease now and shift towards competition in Brooklyn where the ‘Hoos are going to need to win four games in four days to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State makes one more play
In close in-conference contests like this, the game often comes down to who has the ball last. That much was evident as seven points were scored in the final six seconds of play.
The layup from Cleveland with six seconds remaining, followed by Franklin’s heroics from the midrange, and then Cleveland’s ridiculous game-winner fit that trend to a tee. It’s a frustrating way to lose a game. But that can just be the luck of the draw at times. Give a talented team like Florida State an opportunity and they’ll jump at it.
An unfortunate farewell to the seniors
With this final home game of the season, this contest served as Senior Day for three seniors Kihei Clark, Kody Stattmann, and Jayden Nixon. For a while, it seemed as though UVA would take care of business and protect the aura of Senior Day for those guys.
Obviously, that storyline went haywire in the final minutes. Kihei Clark’s turnover with 15 seconds left was perhaps symbolic of the evening on a whole. It’s a shame for those guys — and Clark in particular assuming he does leave — to have their final game in JPJ end this way.