Seminoles stun No. 5 Florida, win record 4th straight vs. Gators
One day before traveling to Gainesville, Florida State men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton worried whether his team's defense would be up to the challenge against No. 5 Florida.
As it turned out, he had nothing to be concerned about.
FSU delivered a brilliant defensive performance Monday night against the rival Gators to pull off an 83-66 victory and improve to 7-0 on the season. UF falls to 5-2.
Florida State also recorded its fourth straight victory against Florida for the first time in school history.
“It’s a quality win. Obviously, at the end of the season, these victories mean a lot,” Hamilton said. “Four in a row? I don’t know what that really means other than we’ve been fortunate because we lost like five in a row. I’m not really sure if we can start taking bows if we won four in a row. We didn’t hang our heads when we lost five in a row.”
The Gators entered Monday's game with the No. 1 scoring offense in the country, averaging 99.5 points per game. They scored 35 points in the first half and just 31 in the second.
While the Seminoles' defense keyed the effort, Hamilton's club also got impressive offensive performances from guards Terance Mann (career-high 25 points), C.J. Walker (17) and Braian Angola (10), and forward Phil Cofer (10).
Florida State’s length and athleticism posed problems all night. The Seminoles altered shots, forced turnovers, controlled the boards and didn’t allow Florida many clean looks, especially from long range.
Coach Mike White pleaded with his Gators to be more physical at halftime, but they didn’t respond. Now, Florida has a two-game losing streak and questions about their lofty ranking.
White said his team’s performance was “the epitome of soft.”
“We spent the last 24 hours talking about throwing the first punch, throwing the first punch, being the aggressor, being proactive against a team that’s gotten the better of us the last few years,” White said. “They threw the first three or four punches and continued throwing most of them and connecting on most of them until the final buzzer. A very disappointing effort.”
With Mann leading the way, Florida State outrebounded Florida 51-34, including 23-11 on the offensive glass. The Seminoles also outscored the Gators 36-20 in the paint and 12-2 on fast breaks.
“They out-toughed us from the start, from the jump,” Gators guard Jalen Hudson said. “It’s super humbling. We’re definitely not as good as we think we are. We’re definitely not as good as the rankings say.”
Hudson (16 points), KeVaughn Allen (15), Egor Koulechov (11) and Chris Chiozza and were a combined 13 of 40 from the field, including 4 of 20 from 3-point range. Chiozza was scoreless until making three free throws down the stretch.
Equally troubling for the Gators: A season-high 17 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Mann kept coming up big for the Seminoles. The junior made 11 of 17 shots and added eight rebounds. Every time Florida looked like it would make a run, Mann answered on the other end. The junior had a tip-in and two three-point plays in the final 8 minutes.
Next up for FSU is a home game Wednesday against visiting Loyola (Md.) at 7 p.m. in the Tucker Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.