The Daily Nole

25-Year Nole Anniversary: Wells, FSU Sink 2-Time Defending Champ Duke

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Not since the 1984 NIT had Florida State defeated a defending national champion. That was the task that stood before the Seminoles on Jan. 24, 1993 as Duke invaded the Leon County Civic Center following back-to-back national titles.

The Blue Devils entered the contest with a record of 13-2, a No. 6 national ranking and a talented team that included Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill and Cherokee Parks. The Seminoles were unranked with a record of 12-5, but had seemed to have hit their stride after a tough start.

The 1992-93 season would end up being a special one for FSU as it would advance all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The team was loaded with future NBA players in Charlie Ward, Sam Cassell, Doug Edwards and Bob Sura. On that Sunday afternoon in Tallahassee however, it was an unlikely hero who would come through for the Seminoles in an 89-88 victory.

“We were a very good team and it was a very good win for us,” said Ward, who finished with 11 points and five steals that day. “We had beat North Carolina the year before. We were trying to beat Duke and really break through.”

For most of the day, Edwards was the horse that carried the Seminoles. Edwards paced FSU with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but fouled out with 1:28 to play in regulation. FSU turned to Byron Wells, a 6-foot-10 senior, who came through big.

“For Byron, that was his M.O.; he was a shooter,” Ward said. “I don’t remember much about the game. I just remember the last play where we were able to seal the deal.”

With FSU trailing 88-86 in overtime, Wells intercepted a pass from the talented Hurley, who scored 22 points, giving the Seminoles a chance to tie or force overtime with 20 seconds left. With less than four seconds to play, Wells popped open and rattled home a corner 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Parks to put FSU ahead for good, 89-88.

“We probably had guys who you’d rather have being the guy to take the clutch shot,” Ward said. “When you’re in a game like that, you never really know who is going to come through. But Byron put in the work in practice and we were confident when he shot the ball.”

For the early parts of overtime, Duke looked like it would avoid letting one slip away. With less than 12 minutes to play in regulation, the Blue Devils led 61-50. The Seminoles drew even with more than five minutes to play and from there, it was back and forth. Prior to the Wells shot in overtime, Marty Clark gave Duke the lead with a baseline jumper.

As he had so often on the gridiron for the Florida State offense, Ward came through big for the FSU defense that day in Tallahassee. His steal of Hill, who led Duke with 25 points, late in regulation forced overtime. Following the shot from Wells, Ward stole an inbounds pass to ice the victory.

Wells hit just nine 3-pointers during his FSU career, but two came that day as the senior from Tampa finished a perfect 4-for-4 from the field with 10 points. Sura and Rodney Dobard each finished with 16 points in the win while Cassell added 15 as six FSU players scored in double-figures.

FSU has gone on to beat the defending national champions on seven occasions since that memorable day in Tallahassee with the most recent coming over North Carolina this season. The first time it ever happened in the regular season and the first time it ever happened at home however, came on this day 25 years ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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  1. Pingback: 30-Year Nole Anniversary: Wells' 3-Pointer Sinks Duke in OT - Double Fries No Slaw

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