CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton used to regularly state that his team’s were only as good as the sum of their parts. In upsetting No. 1 seed Virginia at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, No. 4 seeded Seminoles embodied that saying. From the starting five down to the 10th man that contributed, everyone gave a little bit of themselves in FSU’s 69-59 upset victory at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
The Seminoles (27-6) handed the Cavaliers (29-3), who are ranked No. 2 in both major polls, just their third loss of the season. Duke is the only other team to take down Tony Bennett‘s club this season, doing so on two occasions during the regular season. It marked FSU’s first-ever victory over Virginia in the ACC Tournament. They are 1-2 all-time against the Cavaliers in the conference tournament.
With the victory, FSU advances to Saturday’s ACC Tournament Championship Game, which will be shown on ESPN. The Seminoles will face the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Duke. FSU is now 3-2 in semifinal appearances.
The semifinal victory for FSU was sealed by an emphatic dunk by Terance Mann in the final seconds, his lone points of the evening.
But they reached that point thanks to a little bit of something from everybody in Garnet on the evening.
David Nichols, who had just four points in the first half, finished as the team-leader with 14 points. He was one of three Seminoles in double figures, joining Phil Cofer (11 points), Trent Forrest (10 points) and Mfiondu Kabengele (10 points). Nichols and Forrest each had three assists. Kabengele and Forrest each grabbed six boards. Nichols added five rebounds. Christ Koumadje contributed nine points and nine rebounds. Six players in total had nine or more points for the Seminoles. FSU’s bench had a 28-8 advantage in the scoring column compared to their opponent.
The FSU offense hummed along, posting 69 points – the fourth most scored by any opponent against Virginia this season.
As a team, the Seminoles were 26-for-46 (56.5%) from the floor and 6-for-16 (37.5%) from the perimeter against Virginia. They were 11-for-15 (73.3%) at the line. The Seminoles scored 26 points in the paint, compared to 22 for Virginia. FSU dominated the boards, 35-20. They had 10 assists, while turning it over 13 times. The Seminoles also had three blocks and three steals.
FSU also turned in an outstanding defensive effort. They kept Kyle Guy in check, allowing him just 11 points on eight shots. De’Andre Hunter led the Cavaliers with 13 points. But as a team, they were just 22-for-53 (41.5%) from the floor and 5-for-24 (20.8%) from the perimeter. They did capitalize at the line, going 10-for-13 (76.9%).
FSU won their only ACC Tournament Championship in school history in 2012, which is the last time they advanced to the Championship. FSU defeated North Carolina in that outing.
At the half: FSU held a 35-31 lead over the Cavaliers. The Seminoles led a majority of the first 20 minutes, including by as many as 10 points. Christ Koumadje (9 points), Phil Cofer (8 points) and M.J. Walker (7 points) led the way in the opening half. UVa got 11 points from Kyle Guy, but as a team they were just 2-for-11 (18.2%) from deep and 12-for-28 (42.9%) overall from the field.
Revenge: FSU is now 1-1 on the 2018-19 season against Virginia. Virginia defeated FSU, 65-52, earlier this season in Charlottesville, Va.
After the game, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett was asked what was different from the two meetings.
“It was quite awhile ago, I think they shot it better. They were so balanced in their scoring. We probably didn’t, obviously did not shoot it as well and I think they defended, they were a little tighter on us and played a more physical game and sometimes at this stage of the year the game is more physical,” Bennett said.
One for the record books: With the victory over Virginia, this Seminoles’ team ties the school record for wins in a season with 27. The Seminoles won 27 games and played for the NCAA Championship during the 1971-72 season.