Guard Sam Cassell had a terrific career in basketball.
An NBA All-Star, Cassell was a member of three world championship teams. During his time at Florida State, he was a big-time scorer with a flare for the dramatic.
That was the case on this day 30 years ago. Cassell was able to get to the basket for the winning layup as the Seminoles topped rival Florida in Gainesville, 68-67.
Setting the Stage
FSU was 12-4 and riding a 5-game winning streak as it arrived at the Stephen O’Connell Center on Jan. 27, 1992. The Seminoles had lost two straight to their rivals and six of their previous eight.
Florida was 10-6 under second-year head coach Lon Kruger. Against the rival Seminoles, the Gators were one stop from victory.
Cassell Wins It
With about eight minutes to play, FSU appeared to be in good shape. After leading by as many as 10 in the first half, the Seminoles overcame a 9-point deficit early in the second to take a 58-50 lead.
As it had all night however, Florida had an answer. The Gators responded with a 12-3 run to take the lead and from there, the contest featured two ties and five lead changes.
Stacey Poole’s turnaround jumper with 31 seconds to go had given Florida a 67-66 lead, but Cassell wasn’t going to let the Seminoles lose. The man who set it up however, was known for his precision passing.
On the game’s decisive bucket, Charlie Ward threaded the needle to a cutting Cassell. The pass went past Florida defender Hosie Grimsley and Cassell reversed in the winning shot with three seconds left.
The contest was a game of runs. FSU raced to a 19-9 lead before Florida outscored the Seminoles 32-15 to end the half. After the Gators took a 43-34 lead early in the second half, FSU responded with a 24-7 run.
Cassell’s 19 points led all scorers. Doug Edwards and Rodney Dobard each added 15 points in the win.
Center Andrew DeClercq led Florida with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Poole added 13 for the Gators in the loss.
FSU would go on to reach the Sweet 16 before falling to Indiana. Florida would settle for the NIT before losing to Virginia in the semifinals.
Over the last 30 years, Florida State and Florida have played seven games decided by two points or less. FSU has won five of them. One of those came, thanks to Cassell’s heroics, on this day three decades ago.