Photo credit: Florida State athletics
The 1985-86 season wasn’t one of the better campaigns for Florida State basketball. The Seminoles finished just 12-17, but over the final weeks of the season, there was no shortage of excitement.
On this day 35 years ago, FSU stunned Virginia Tech in the Metro Tournament quarterfinals. FSU won a buzzer beater for the second time in three wins as Pee Wee Barber banked home a 25-footer to sink Virginia Tech, 77-76.
Setting the Stage
FSU was just 12-16 as it arrived at Freedom Hall on March 7, 1986. The Seminoles were the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, but had won two of three coming in, including a thrilling win over Memphis late in the regular season.
Virginia Tech was 21-7 and had closed the regular season by winning four of five games. That included a 92-84 win over Florida State. The third-seeded Hokies had spent time in the polls and were seen as a legitimate contender to win the Metro Tournament. In the end however, a scrappy FSU team said not so fast.
Barber Plays Hero
Florida State had trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, but refused to go quietly. The first lead of the second half for the Seminoles came with under two minutes to play as Barber’s jumper put FSU in front, 73-72.
The lead would change five times over the final 90 seconds. For Florida State, the final six points would come from Barber.
After Keith Colbert and Barber traded jumpers, it looked as though Virginia Tech’s Dell Curry would be the hero. With just six seconds to go, Curry’s driving layup gave the Hokies a 76-75 lead. Barber was left with no choice but to push the basketball.
With time ticking away, Barber heaved a shot from deep. It hit the glass and fell through as the buzzer sounded.
Somehow, someway, FSU had advanced.
In the first half, FSU trailed by as many as seven, but finished the half strong. The Seminoles used a late 7-0 run to even things up, but Curry’s layup late in the half gave the Hokies a 37-35 lead at the break.
FSU was able to tie the game at 45 early in the second half, but Virginia Tech responded with an 18-8 run. Led by Barber, Randy Allen and David Shaffer, FSU answered with a 20-9 run to pull in front.
Barber finished with 22 points to pace FSU. Shaffer and Jerome Fitchett added 15 and 12 points, respectively, in the victory. Curry paced the Hokies with a game-high 25 points.
For FSU, the victory would prolong its season for just one day. The Seminoles fought hard against Memphis in the Metro semifinals a day later, but Andre Turner hit a jumper with six seconds remaining to lift the Tigers to a 73-71 win. Memphis would fall to Louisville for the conference crown.
As for Virginia Tech, the loss would not cost it an NCAA Tournament bid. The Hokies would earn a No. 7 seed, but fell to Villanova in the first round, 71-62.
The loss to FSU would serve as the Seminoles’ final victory under head coach Joe Williams. It came on this day 35 years ago.