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DeMercy gets upper hand on former teammate Lawal
FSU freshman beats Yellow Jackets, 66-64

ATLANTA - Jordan DeMercy hadn't gotten a chance to give former Norcross teammate Gani Lawal a call recently.

"But I will now," DeMercy said.

"Yeah, I'm sure I'll be hearing from him," Lawal said.

DeMercy and Lawal went head-to-head in their ACC basketball debuts Sunday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

DeMercy and Florida State got the upper hand.

Let the trash talking begin.

"To win our first ACC game was big for us," DeMercy said. "To win at Georgia Tech makes it even nicer for me."

DeMercy played a key role off the bench as the Seminoles came from behind to edge the Yellow Jackets 66-64 on Jason Rich's jumper with 4.3 seconds left.

"It was a game we should have won," Lawal said. "I never feel good about a loss."

Georgia Tech (6-6) jumped to a 12-2 lead and it looked like the Yellow Jackets might blow out FSU, which has two key players injured and another suspended.

But DeMercy came off the bench for the Seminoles (11-4) to hit a big 3-pointer in the first half, and had a nice rebound and reverse midway in the second half.

Still, it looked like Georgia Tech had things under control when Lawal went to work. He hit two free throws, threw down a dunk and drew a charge in less than a minute.

Mistakes did in the Yellow Jackets down the stretch, however.

At the end, FSU players were the only ones celebrating and no one was happier than DeMercy.

DeMercy's dream was always to play in the ACC and Georgia Tech would have been his first choice. Beating the Yellow Jackets at Atlanta in his first ACC game was the next best thing.

"We needed everyone to come through and Jordan was big for us," said FSU's Toney Douglas, who scored a game-high 22 points. "He really stepped up for us."

DeMercy had to sit out his junior year in high school after transferring from Greater Atlanta Christian to Norcross and wasn't a top national recruit like Lawal. But he helped the Blue Devils win a second consecutive state Class AAAAA title and has fit in well at FSU.

Seminole coach Leonard Hamilton is full of praise for the 6-foot-7 freshman forward.

"Jordan has made tremendous progress," Hamilton said. "I can't say how happy we are with the potential he has. He has been coming along real well.

"We feel that he is going to be an outstanding player. He's gotten better and better as each week has gone on. He's more relaxed and he's doing all the right things.

"He'll be getting more opportunities and he's ready for it. He played very well, but we expected it. I'm not surprised with the way he played at all."

While the 6-foot-9 Lawal has moved into the starting lineup at power forward with the Yellow Jackets, DeMercy has seen limited minutes with FSU. He's made the most of his opportunities, however.

DeMercy almost matched Lawal in minutes on Sunday, getting 12 to Lawal's 20. His five points were just one less than Lawal. Both had one rebound.

"It's been up and down," DeMercy said of his playing time. "It's definitely a big adjustment going from high school to college, but I think I've handled it. I'm feeling more comfortable."

At times, DeMercy and Lawal found themselves guarding each other.

"It was almost like being back at Norcross," DeMercy said. "I knew what he wanted to do, but you still have to stop him."

"It did feel a little weird at times," said Lawal, who is averaging 7.1 points and leads the Yellow Jackets with 11 blocked shots.

FSU and Georgia Tech don't have a rematch in Tallahassee this season, but they could meet in the ACC Tournament come March.

Of course, Lawal and DeMercy will have three more years of eligibility after this season and plenty more ACC wars could lie ahead.

For now though, DeMercy has the edge and he planned to let Lawal hear about it.