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'Chippy' Catamounts raise FSU's ire; Mann, Kabengele deliver knockout

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Vermont Catamounts had every reason to feel good about themselves.

They had played No. 4 seed Florida State to a draw in the first half, and they had actually claimed the lead in the second. They were shooting the lights out from 3-point range, they were holding their own on the glass against the much larger Seminoles, and they were withstanding full-court pressure on every possession.

But at some point Thursday afternoon -- somewhere during the second half in the XL Center -- the 13th-seeded Catamounts apparently started feeling a little too good about themselves.

There was a verbal exchange between Vermont forward Isaiah Moll and FSU forward Mfiondu Kabengele. There was the blow to the face that forced Seminoles guard Terance Mann to receive medical attention. And there was another collision that forced FSU guard David Nichols to the sideline with an apparent knee injury.

An in response, there was an avalanche from the Seminoles.

"They started getting chippy, and I think that's what kind of got them in trouble," Mann said. "Because we just fought right back. I think it took us to a new level as a team. Like I said, we're a veteran squad -- when a team goes out and gets a little chippy, we're gonna rise to the occasion and not back down. And as you see, that's what happened. Once they started getting chippy, that's when we busted the game open."

While it was a team effort, Mann and Kabengele did most of the busting.

After combining to score nine points in the first half, the senior guard and sophomore forward took things over in the second half. Kabengele finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Mann had 19 and 8, and the Seminoles pulled away for a 76-69 victory.

The win improved FSU's record to 28-7, which is a new school record for victories in a season, and it pushed the Seminoles into a Saturday Round of 32 game against No. 12 seed Murray State, which blitzed No. 5 seed Marquette, 83-64.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

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