On to the next one: No. 4 seed FSU puts Vermont away late, 76-69
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Florida State wasn't quite as deep and long and athletic as usual on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior forward Phil Cofer missed the game with a foot injury, and senior guard P.J. Savoy was held out for more than a half for an undisclosed reason.
It didn't matter.
As they have done to opponents all season, the No. 4 seed Seminoles wore down a pesky Vermont squad with relentless defensive pressure and pulled away late for a 76-69 victory. The Seminoles trailed for most of the first half and even well into the second, but they were too much for the 13th-seeded Catamounts down the stretch.
Vermont's last lead came at 45-44 with 11:34 remaining.
With the victory, FSU improves to 28-7 and advances to Saturday's second-round game against the winner of Thursday's second game between Murray State and Marquette.
Florida State was led offensively by sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele and senior guard Terance Mann. Kabengele scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Mann finished with 19 and 8.
Kabengele might have delivered the play of the game in the final minutes when he got the ball in the post and was surrounded by three Vermont defenders. The Seminoles were leading by only six points at the time, and Kabengele was able to knife through the defense and slam down a dunk to push the advantage to eight.
The game was tied at halftime, 27-27, despite a brilliant shooting performance early by the Catamounts. They hit 7 of their first 10 3-pointers and 7 of 13 for the half. They finished 16 of 32 for the game from long range.
Vermont's star forward, Anthony Lamb, lived up to the billing. He led the Catamounts (27-7) with 16 points and nine rebounds.