25-Year Nole Anniversary: Thompson’s Jumper Sinks Georgia Tech, 67-65
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25-Year Nole Anniversary: Thompson’s Jumper Sinks Georgia Tech, 67-65

In recent years, Michael Snaer and Trent Forrest proved to be clutch shot makers for Florida State basketball. During the latter parts of the Pat Kennedy era, there was another guard with that reputation.

New York City native Kerry Thompson had no problem performing under pressure. That was never more clear than his junior season of 1996-97.

On this day 25 years ago, FSU let a late lead slip away, but Thompson was there to save the day. His jumper with 2.5 seconds left lifted the Seminoles to a thrilling 67-65 victory over Georgia Tech.

Setting the Stage

Georgia Tech and Florida State were both 3-7 in ACC play as they arrived at the Leon County Civic Center on Feb. 9, 1997. Despite even conference records, it seemed like a game that FSU should win on paper.

The Seminoles were 12-7 overall while Georgia Tech was just 9-11. The Yellow Jackets however, had beat FSU convincingly when the teams met in Atlanta earlier in the season.

Thompson Saves the Day

With less than a minute to play, FSU seemed to be in control. FSU led 61-55 with 51 seconds to play, but Georgia Tech’s Matt Harpring refused to let his team go quietly.

With 41.8 seconds remaining, Harpring completed a 4-point play by knocking down a trey while drawing the foul. Harpring made the free throw to cut the lead to 61-59, but FSU had multiple chances to make it a 2-possession game.

After Randell Jackson missed a pair of free throws, Corey Louis could only split a pair for the Seminoles. With FSU leading 62-59, Harpring again delivered from distance. His 3-pointer tied the game with 23.3 seconds remaining.

The score was now tied 62-62, but FSU could hold for the final shot. That’s what Thompson did. Thompson was able to create space before knocking down the winning jumper with less than three seconds remaining.

Leading Up

FSU never trailed in the contest, but could not seem to put Georgia Tech away. The Seminoles led by as many as 13 in the first half and 34-21 at halftime.

The Yellow Jackets would draw even three times in the second half, including at 50 with five minutes to play. Thompson scored five straight points and LaMarr Greer added a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run for FSU.

Thompson and James Collins each scored 16 points to lead FSU in the victory. Harpring’s 19 points led the Yellow Jackets. Gary Saunders and Eddie Elisma added 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the loss.

In Hindsight

For Georgia Tech, the loss began a 7-game losing streak to finish the season. The Yellow Jackets finished just 9-18 — their worst record in 19 seasons under head coach Bobby Cremins.

In what would be Kennedy’s final season at FSU, the Seminoles finished with 20 wins before falling in the NIT Championship to Michigan. Two of those victories from that season came by just two points. That includes the thrilling win over Georgia Tech that came on this day a quarter-century ago.



Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

Mike Ferguson

Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw and has more than 10 years of experience in online and print journalism. Mike graduated from Florida State University in 2009 and has had his work featured at numerous prominent publications such as Fox Sports, the Associated Press, Athlon Sports, Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated among others. Prior to joining Double Fries No Slaw, Mike was the founder and editor of The Daily Nole. He also serves as the managing editor for Fifth Quarter and is a contributor for Athlon Sports, Fish Stripes and Orlando Pinstriped Post. Mike and his wife Jennifer reside in Haines City, Fla. and have two daughters.