In Virginia's four ACC losses, the opponents have cranked up their efficiency in the last five minutes, committing 0 turnovers and hitting 10 of 14 three-point shots - most of them against a contest. Meanwhile, Virginia has seen its shooting go down somewhat from season averages, while turnovers were pretty much the same - 7 of them in 20 minutes of game action.
Against Florida State, those trends shifted somewhat.
First, an acknowledgement of Florida State's stellar ball control. The Seminoles committed only ONE turnover in the entire second HALF - and that "turnover" was Balsa Koprivica's Flagrant 2 foul on Kihei. It goes down as a "turnover" because Virginia got the ball back by rule after the two free throws. So, really, Florida State did not give the ball away a single time the entire second half - after only committing 6 in the first half. This is from a team that routinely commits more than twice that many turnovers. FSU's turnover percentage for the whole game was 11.3% against a season average of 18.9%.
For the game, FSU shot 38.8% from the floor overall and 35% from three. Not very good, but not terrible, either.
Virginia, meanwhile, committed 17 turnovers overall, with 10 of those coming in the first half. In the second half, therefore, the Cavaliers took better care of the ball. Virginia also shot quite a bit better than average this game, and in the second half, going 43.9% for the game and 47.4% in the second half overall, and 41.7% from three for the game. The Hoos shot just 12 three-pointers, and only 5 in the second half (3-7 in the first half and 2-5 in the second). How much of the dramatic decrease in attempts was game plan based on the horrid team shooting this season and how much was Florida State's defense, we don't know. But fewer attempts and the best shooters taking the most attempts were good changes.
At the five minute mark of the game, Florida State clung to a 49-48 lead and Virginia had the ball. Braxton Key would step to the free throw line for two shots just two seconds later. He missed the first but hit the second, setting off a run of 7-consecutive free throws for Virginia. The Cavaliers scored 13 points in the last five minutes on 7-8 from the free throw line and 2-4 from the floor. They did not attempt a three-point shot. The two baskets were a Kihei Clark layup and a Jay Huff dunk. The Cavaliers were credited with one turnover, on a shot clock violation.
Florida State did not commit a turnover, of course, as we already said they committed zero in the half. The Noles were 3-10 from the floor including 0-2 from three - with both three-point attempts coming in the last 10 seconds after Virginia went up by 3 on Mamadi Diakite's two free throws.
So what we saw was a pretty remarkable performance in the last five minutes by a team that saw 6 players play 20+ minutes just two days after they played on overtime game, against a team that regularly goes 10+ deep and specifically plays to wear down its opponents. Three of Virginia's players - Clark, Key and Diakite - played over 75 minutes in the two games combined. The Hoos scored on 7 out of 8 possessions in the last five minutes, while Florida State converted on just 3 of 7 possessions.
This time, it was Virginia hoo made the plays in winning time.