ATLANTA -- Florida State joined the growing list of teams to break Georgia Tech’s heart in the final minutes of a game. And the Seminoles did it with the help of a player from Middle Georgia.
Jones County product Jarquez Smith, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, tallied 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks to lead Florida State to a 57-53 win over Georgia Tech.
The script was very familiar. Georgia Tech (11-14, 2-11 ACC) led by five points with 3:31 remaining and failed to score another point. Florida State (14-12, 6-7) closed with a 9-0 run, making 7-of-8 from the line, and won the game when the Yellow Jackets went 1-for-9 from the floor during the final stretch.
“We were fortunate at the end,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We had guys make free throws, and the ball bounced our way at the end.”
Smith was in the middle of the action all day. He finished one point shy of matching his career high for points and brought a lot of energy to the court.
He sustained a strained knee toward the end of the game when he fell and had his left knee popped when Georgia Tech’s Robert Sampson rolled over him. The trainers taped the knee and slid a brace over it, and Smith was able to return for the final minute.
“Being able to come here and play well and bring energy and win is a great feeling,” Smith said. “After losing that close game to Duke, we needed to come out here and win. This was important.”
Georgia Tech again put itself in position to win a game. The Yellow Jackets erased a 32-23 halftime lead with a 15-2 run to open the second half. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored on a layup with 14:03 to put Georgia Tech ahead 38-34, and the Yellow Jackets seemed to be on their way.
Georgia Tech led 53-46 with 3:31 on a free throw by Charles Mitchell but didn’t score another point for the rest of the game. Georges-Hunt was called for a foul that negated a Demarco Cox dunk that would have given the Yellow Jackets the lead. And Georgia Tech, trailing 55-53, had a chance to tie the game with eight seconds remaining, but Georges-Hunt missed the front end of a one-and-one and Florida State got the rebound.
In the end, it was another frustrating loss. Georgia Tech has lost 10 ACC games by a total of 38 points.
“Give them credit,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “They made some big plays down the stretch. Our guys fought, that’s what they do, and it’s what they’ve got to keep doing. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, given the effort.”
Georgia Tech got 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists from Georges-Hunt. Twelve of his points came in the second half. Demarco Cox added 12 points, and Mitchell had eight points and five rebounds before fouling out.
Florida State was led by freshman Xavier Rathan-Ayes with 20 points and six rebounds. Boris Bojanovsky scored only six points, but he was 4-for-4 from the line in the final two minutes.
Georgia Tech started the game cold from the floor. As a result of making only 2-of-9 to start the game, the Yellow Jackets fell behind by seven. They regained their composure and battled back to actually take the lead on a pair of free throws by Georges-Hunt with 6:05 left.
But the Yellow Jackets went cold again and compounded the problem with turnovers. Georgia Tech missed its final five shots of the half and turned it over three times, leading to a 9-0 Florida State run that gave the Seminoles a 32-23 halftime lead.
Georgia Tech plays at home again on Monday against Clemson.