No. 15 Florida State, Georgia Tech battle in ACC final

·3 min read

When Florida State and Georgia Tech square off on Saturday night in Greensboro, N.C., it will mark only the second time in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament (first played in 1954) that the final will not include a team from the state of North Carolina.

Two teams -- Duke and Virginia -- were forced to pull out of the tournament this week due to positive COVID-19 tests.

As a result, second-seeded Florida State (16-5) and fourth-seeded Georgia Tech (16-8) each needed to win only one game to reach the final. The teams split during the regular season with the Yellow Jackets capturing the most recent meeting 76-65 on Jan. 30 in Atlanta.

"You never know what's going to happen throughout these tough times," Florida State freshman guard Scottie Barnes said. "You've just got to be grateful for every game you get to play."

Fifteenth-ranked Florida State will try to win its first ACC tournament title since 2012 and second all-time. The Seminoles were the league's regular-season champion last year.

Led by Balsa Koprivica's 17 points and 11 rebounds, the Seminoles edged sixth-seeded North Carolina 69-66 on Friday night.

Barnes finished with 11 points and M.J. Walker and Malik Osborne each had nine.

"Whenever you play against a team as talented as Carolina, it's a grind, and we were fortunate enough tonight to make a couple plays there toward the end that gave us a chance to win," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said.

The Yellow Jackets, who have not won the ACC tournament since 1993, hope to secure an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in 11 seasons regardless of Saturday's outcome.

Georgia Tech enters the final on a seven-game winning streak after ending 13th-seed Miami's unexpected run to the quarterfinals, 70-66, on Thursday. It was the Yellow Jackets' first ACC tournament win since an opening-round victory in 2016.

On Friday, Georgia Tech advanced following Virginia's forced departure from the tournament.

"Anxiety is an understatement," said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, whose team has been staying at its team hotel in Greensboro since March 4 before playing its regular-season finale at Wake Forest. "It's easier to say, 'Hey, it's out of your control so don't worry,' and I understand that and get that. But as hard as it is to get to the NCAA Tournament for Georgia Tech, I want our guys to experience it."

The Yellow Jackets' Jordan Usher scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half against the Hurricanes. Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe each scored 13 points for Georgia Tech, with the latter also totaling seven assists.

Usher had a game-clinching dunk off an assist from Alvarado just after he saved the ball from going out of bounds at the other end, avoiding a turnover that would have given Miami a chance to tie or take the lead.

"We've got to get to Indy (for the NCAA Tournament), but our guys want to compete," Pastner said. "We want to compete, and we have a chance to play for a championship, so we never thought for a second that we wouldn't play."

--Field Level Media