TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Michael Snaer says he doesn’t have a favorite spot on the floor to shoot from.
But there’s a 1-square-foot piece of floor on the right wing just beyond the 3-point arc that the Florida State junior sharpshooter owns.
Snaer did it at Duke, knocking down a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired as the Seminoles stunned the No. 4 Blue Devils by three points in January.
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And 25 days later, Snaer capped a stunning rally with a 3-pointer from the same spot with 2.6 seconds left in the game — albeit at home in Tallahassee this time.
Snaer’s shot gave the No. 20 Seminoles a 48-47 win on Thursday, helping FSU win for the ninth time in its past 10 games. And this one may have been the most improbable: With some Seminoles fans heading toward the exits, FSU completed a desperate rally from nine points down with just 1:29 left in the game.
“I was wide open,” Snaer said. “Anybody could have hit that shot.”
But a game-winner for a second time in less than a month? At Duke, it was point guard Luke Loucks who weaved his way down the floor and drew attention only to dish the ball to Snaer for the final shot. On Thursday, it was reserve point guard Jeff Peterson who drew the defenders and then found Snaer — again, somehow, wide open in the same spot.
“I wanted it, of course,” Snaer said. “I know I’m capable of making that shot and fortunately enough it went down. I got a good look at it. I don’t know how, but I got a good look at it.”
Even Snaer said he was surprised at how open he was, although Virginia Tech was short-handed with just seven players and using a zone defense — which allowed Snaer to get free.
“We were a little late to close and the guy made a good shot,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said.
Virginia Tech was only in this position because the Hokies couldn’t buy a free throw down the stretch, missing five of six in the final minutes and making just seven of 16 free-throw attempts for the game.
The misses allowed FSU (18-7, 9-2 ACC) to claw back into the game despite the fact that Virginia Tech went on a 17-0 run to open the second half and took a 40-25 lead with 15 minutes left in the game.
Jarell Eddie made a pair of free throws for Virginia Tech (14-12, 3-8), giving them a 46-37 lead with 1:29 left in the game.
But FSU got three quick baskets — a Jeff Peterson 3-pointer, an Okaro White dunk and finally an Ian Miller 3-pointer with 45 seconds left that pulled FSU to within two, 47-45.
Virginia Tech couldn’t put the game away. Dorian Finney-Smith missed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left, and then Robert Brown missed two free-throw attempts with 10 seconds left.
“It’s real simple: You step up and make free throws and the game is over,” Greenberg said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.”
Virginia Tech’s misses and FSU’s late heroics allowed the Seminoles to keep pace with North Carolina and Duke at 9-2 atop the ACC.
FSU has never won a regular-season ACC title, and this is the latest in a season that the Seminoles have owned at least a share of first place since the 1992-93 season. They finished in second place that season but advanced to the Elite Eight.
The road ahead for this FSU team is challenging to say the least, beginning with a short turnaround at N.C. State on Saturday. Then FSU has a rematch at home with Duke on Feb. 23, followed by road dates with Miami and Virginia before the regular-season finale against Clemson on March 4.
There’s lots of basketball left — it’s still just mid-February and the madness of March won’t hit for weeks.
But on Thursday, in a fashion that was maddening to Virginia Tech, FSU found a way to win — erasing a nine-point deficit in 90 seconds.
“They kept pounding on us,” Snaer said. “We kept pushing. We kept fighting back. I saw it in them. I saw that they were getting tired and they were ready to cave in. We were getting tired, too.
“We just knew we couldn’t let our championships slip away. We can’t let our championship hopes die. There’s no way we can lose this game.”