Struggling mightily from the field, and with his team on the wrong end of a 14-0 run, Michael Snaer received a pass from Luke Loucks and was prepared to take the baseline 3. The junior took the shot without hesitation.
The rest is now embedded in Florida State basketball history. The ‘Noles ended up hanging on to defeat Virginia 58-55 in a game that had been anything but pretty. The two teams combined for 39 turnovers and had problems getting any type of offensive rhythm throughout the afternoon.
Nonetheless, the victory continues the Seminoles' longest ACC win streak in school history and keeps them atop the conference standings.
Still, the bigger story is how this team finally has a scorer it can rely on in close, late-game situations: Mr. Snaer.
The 6-5 guard had trouble finding the hoop Saturday. Suffering from tired legs due to his responsibility of chasing Cavalier guards Jontel Evans and Sammy Zeglinski for most of the day, Snaer had not been getting the proper lift on his shots all afternoon. He finished just 3 of 9 from the field for 8 points.
However, the Moreno Valley, California, native never lost confidence nor composure and scored all of his points down the stretch. His three baskets came in crunch time, when FSU desperately needed someone to step up and save the day.
"Mike has been really playing great basketball in the clutch," said coach Leonard Hamilton. "[He's] growing and maturing to play with the type of confidence to play at this level."
Playing great ball in the clutch is difficult to define, since being "clutch" isn't an exact science. However, it's clear that Snaer doesn't fear the big moment and isn't scared to take the "big shot," regardless of how well or poor he had performed offensively until that point in time.
"To take some of the shots I've taken, it takes a lot of courage and a lot of confidence," said Snaer. "It's just about feeling comfortable enough to take those shots. I've hit some big ones before."
He certainly has.
Perhaps the most memorable big shot of Snaer's career happened just two weeks ago, when he buried a 3-pointer to secure the 76-73 upset win over Duke. That victory gave the ‘Noles two wins over top-five opponents in one week.
FSU will get an opportunity to sweep the season series when the Blue Devils visit Tallahassee on Feb. 23.
Until then, Florida State will continue to rely on its scoring-by-committee approach, but also lean on Snaer's production in crucial moments. While this is a team that does not have a proven superstar, Snaer is quickly emerging as the guy that can be depended upon when it's closing time.
Make no mistake about it: This is a squad that is fearless. At no point in time do any of its members appear to be overwhelmed by the moment. Not at home against UNC, on the road in Durham or when facing adversity against the Cavaliers.
Nonetheless, every team needs that go-to guy. The man it can expect to step up and knock down the big shot. The player that can stare down the opposition, rise up and drill it.
That guy is now Michael Snaer.
"He's been a guy that has made the big plays for them," said Virginia coach Tony Bennett. "He's a threat. He's got a mid-range game. He's big enough to rise up over you. [We] had to make his shots as tough as possible."
For the most of the game, the Cavs did just that. They made his shots as difficult as they could. They were successful more often than not.
However, when the outcome was on the line, there was no defender in that building capable of deterring Snaer from taking over the game. He was a man on a mission, and he succeeded.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
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