Every time the Florida State guard touched the ball late in Wednesday night's game against Miami, he felt his shot would be going in. Rathan-Mayes almost singlehandedly brought the Seminoles back into it with a remarkable scoring run that featured some eye-popping statistics.
At one point, he scored 26 points in a row for Florida State and had 30 points over the final four minutes 38 seconds. The Hurricanes held on for an 81-77 win, but the Toronto guard stole the show.
"I just felt like I was in a gym by myself and everything was quiet," Rathan-Mayes told The Canadian Press on Thursday from Tallahassee, Fla. "It was an amazing feeling. I've never been in that mindframe before."
The 20-year-old freshman completed his 26-point run in just 3:36 and finished the game with a career-high 35 points. Over 36 minutes, Rathan-Mayes was 10 of 19 from the field and six of 11 from three-point range.
Montay Brandon was the only other Florida State player in double digits with 11 points. Miami's Davon Reed hit two free throws with two seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Rathan-Mayes, a product of Huntington Prep, is enjoying an impressive rookie season. He leads the Seminoles with an average of 14.4 points per game and already holds the school's all-time record for points in a season by a freshman (402) with two games still to play.
He's 11th overall in ACC scoring and one of only two first-year players in the conference's top 25.
Rathan-Mayes was still well behind the all-time NCAA record for consecutive points by one player without a teammate scoring. Bill Mlkvy scored 54 straight points for Temple in a game against Wilkes on March 3, 1951, an NCAA statistician said.
The NCAA record for most points scored by one player in 30 seconds or less is 10 by Javi Gonzalez of North Carolina State in a 2009 game against Arizona. Records of that nature for a timespan as long as Rathan-Mayes's run aren't kept by the NCAA.
"My teammates did an unbelievable job in embracing me and giving me confidence to be able to shoot those shots," he said. "It was just a special feeling."
Rathan-Mayes said his experience at the Canadian junior level has helped prepare him for this stage in his playing career. He won bronze at the under-18 Americas Championship in 2012 and helped Canada to a sixth-place finish at the U19 world championship in 2013.
He also wears the same No. 22 that his father wore at FSU. Tharon Mayes averaged 16.4 points a game for the Seminoles and ranks 21st on the school's all-time scoring list (1,260 points) even though his college career ended over two decades ago.
Mayes had a brief NBA stint in the early 1990s before embarking on a long pro career in Europe.
"From when I was a little kid, I've always wanted to play in my father's footsteps," Rathan-Mayes said. "I think that was a huge factor (in choosing FSU). I not only wanted to follow in his footsteps, but I wanted to go to the school that he went to and break the records that he set.
"It's pretty special to be able to play here behind him and also wear the number that he wore."
The six-foot-four point guard even earned raves from the opposition on Wednesday night. Miami's Jim Larranga, who has coached 934 games, called it one of the greatest on-court performances he's ever seen.
Rathan-Mayes said the increased attention from his performance has been a little overwhelming. But he's determined to stay focused as the 15-14 Seminoles prepare for the ACC tournament and possibly a spot in the March Madness competition next month.
"It's just an unbelievable feeling because as a kid you always dream about having moments like that and being able to do something special in a fashion like that," he said. "My Dad always tells me just to keep on course, stay hungry and humble and keep improving every single day."
With files from The Associated Press.
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