No. 9 Seminoles survive scare, improve to 12-1 on the season
With five minutes left it was a three-point game.
Florida State, coming off a nine-day layoff, looked a step (or two) slow for most of the afternoon on Tuesday against Winthrop, but when it mattered most the Seminoles took control of the game with their defense.
Mfiondu Kabengele had three blocks down the stretch, veterans Terance Mann and Trent Forrest made plays on the other end, and No. 9 FSU survived a scare from the Eagles with an 87-76 win at the Tucker Center.
Florida State is now 12-1 on the season and will play again at No. 4 Virginia on Saturday.
This marks the second time in three years the Seminoles have won 12 of their first 13 games. That had only happened one time (1988-89) in the previous 68 years of Florida State basketball.
The Seminoles actually closed the first half on a run, too, and went into the locker room with a 16-point lead.
Senior Phil Cofer scored the team's first 12 points - he finished with a season-high 14 - and Florida State was 8 of 16 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, including a late one from the corner by senior guard David Nichols (10 points in the game).
The lead was actually stretched to 18 early in the second half on a Mann layup, but the Eagles stormed back. Taking advantage of an FSU defense that was primarily concerned with stopping the 3-point shot, the Winthop guards continually got into the lane for buckets.
The Eagles shot 49.2 percent from the field overall, including 64 percent from 2-point range. All told, they scored 42 points in the paint. And when Adam Pickett converted two free throws with 5:06 left, FSU only led 75-72.
But then Trent Forrest scored his first points of the day on a drive to the basket. Mann scored moments later on a putback and then Forrest again scored on a pretty up-and-under move inside the paint.
Over the final five minutes, Winthrop made just one basket from the floor and scored a total of four points as the FSU defense took over the game.
Mann finished with a team-high 22 points (on 10 of 11 from the floor), Kabengele and Nichols added 10 points each for the Seminoles, who were playing without starter M.J. Walker (knee).
Florida State also had 13 steals and a season-high eight blocks, with most of those coming with the game on the line in the final five minutes.
Winthrop (8-5) was led by Pickett's 19 points.