SUNRISE, Fla. – Sunrise is starting to feel like a second home for the Seminoles. At least that's the sentiment shared by fans of the Florida State basketball team after their 64-59 victory Saturday against Florida Atlantic at the BB&T Center.
The Seminoles made their fourth consecutive appearance in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. They've won each time, but Saturday's game against FAU might have been the closest yet.
FSU sophomore sensation Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 12 points, including the only 3-pointers of the game, to rally his team to victory.
The Seminoles (8-2) trailed 35-23 in the first half. It was their lowest point total in the first 20 minutes of a game this season. They were also 0-for-6 from the 3-point line in the opening half.
"They had more energy than we had at the beginning of the game," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said.
The Owls (2-9) were ahead 11-3 early before play was stopped at the 15:20 mark to tend to an issue with one of the hoops, which appeared to be rattled loose by FSU's Montay Brandon after he missed a dunk.
It was the second such hoop malfunction, which delayed the start of the game by about 40 minutes.
Rathan-Mayes was 2-for-4 from the 3-point line, while the rest of his team was 0-for-10. His first 3-pointer came at the 11:35 mark, trimming FAU's lead to four.
His second 3-pointer midway through the second half tied the game for the Seminoles at 44 apiece.
FSU freshman Malik Beasley gave the Seminoles their first lead of the game in grand fashion. His slam dunk put the Seminoles on top, 46-45.
Fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon was the leading scorer with 23 points for the Seminoles. Bacon, who is among the nation's best freshmen, was named the game's most valuable player.
His jumper with a little more than two minutes remaining gave the Seminoles a 60-56 cushion, but FAU followed it up with a 3-point shot from Marquan Botley that pulled the Owls to within one.
Rathan-Mayes then scored on consecutive possessions for the Seminoles' final points. His layup with 27 seconds left gave the Seminoles their largest lead of the game.
FAU's Jackson Trapp missed a 3-point attempt on the Owls' final possession, giving the ball back to FSU as time expired.
"They did a great job offensively and defensively," Botley said. "They did a great job getting out of transition, and I think that kind of hurt us in the long run."
Florida State improved to 5-1 in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, their lone loss coming to Massachusetts in their first appearance in 1999.
This was the first meeting between the Seminoles and FAU since 1997. FSU is 5-0 all-time against the Owls.