Florida State tops No. 7 Virginia

No. 16 Florida State basketball (12-3, 8-2 ACC) embarrassed no. 7 Virginia in a 81-60 victory tonight. The ‘Noles dominated the game in every phase for 40 minutes of basketball. The Seminoles came out hot and never slowed down in the primetime matchup. FSU has now won 24 straight home games against ACC competition.

UVA jumped out to a 6-2 lead after two early triples, but after that it was all Seminoles, all the time. The ‘Noles forced three quick turnovers, including steals from RaiQuan Gray and Anthony Polite. Gray got the ‘Noles going offensively, as he drained a corner three and scored a tough basket in the paint for five quick points. A pair of emphatic dunks from Malik Osborne gave the Seminoles an 11-6 lead at the first media timeout of the game.

Anthony Polite kept the momentum on FSU’s side as he converted an and-1 out of the timeout. Tanor Ngom got in the action on both ends of the court early. Ngom blocked a dunk attempt from the Cavaliers, before tapping an offensive put-back on the Seminoles’ next offensive possession.

Florida State suffocated UVA on the glass early, with five more boards through the first nine minutes. The Seminoles grabbed four of their first eight misses of the game off the offensive glass. The domination on the glass led to a nine-point lead at the second media timeout of the game.

FSU’s hot start came without contributions from MJ Walker through the first 11 minutes into the game. Walker quickly erased the 0 on his box score with back-to-back triples to open up a 17-point FSU lead just over 12 minutes into the game. At the under-8 media timeout, the Seminoles lead in every single statistical category, besides being tied with one block each. A 26-5 run gave the ‘Noles a 28-11 lead with 7:43 left in the first half.

Polite’s active hands on defense and Walker’s lights out shooting continued to haunt the Seminoles. After actually securing a defensive rebound for once, Polite stripped the ball away from Casey Morsell. The steal led to Walker’s third three of the night and a 20-point FSU lead. UVA followed with a triple of their own, but an Osborne deep ball put the lead right back to 20.

Florida State absolutely embarrassed for the Cavaliers for 20 straight minutes. The ‘Noles entered the half with a twenty-point lead after shooting 53% from the field and 60% from beyond the arc. FSU had five less turnovers, nine more points off turnovers, and seven more rebounds than UVA. It was a dominant performance in every phase of the game. Gray and Walker led the way with nine points each. Gray also added two steals, two assists, and two boards to his first half line.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Virginia’s Kihei Clark looked determine to make it a game in the second half. A quick four points from Clark led to a Leonard Hamilton timeout just a minute into the second half. After the timeout, Walker got the Seminoles on the board, as the senior leader drained his fourth triple of the night.

Sam Hauser’s second triple of the game and two more buckets from Clark cut the lead to 12 with 15:50 remaining. Trey Murphy’s second triple of the game cut the FSU lead to just seven points under six minutes in to the half, but FSU put their most important stretch of basketball together over the next two minutes.

Sardaar Calhoun responded to Murphy’s triple with one of his own to up the lead back to double digits.Barnes and Gray both added tough baskets in the paint. Another Calhoun deep ball pushed the Florida State lead back to 15 at the under-12 media timeout, with the ‘Noles on a 7-0 run. In the two minutes of action, the ‘Noles were 4-5 from the field, and rebounded their only miss.

Calhoun continued his impressive play out of the timeout. The guard leaped up to intercept a UVA pass, before finding Barnes in transition for his first triple of the night. The very next possession, Barnes intercepted a pass, found Calhoun on an outlet pass, who found Walker in the corner for another transition three. All of a sudden, the Seminole lead was back to 20 with 10:38 remaining.

All of FSU’s shots were dropping, even step-back jumpers and threes from Balsa Koprivica. The first three-pointer of Koprivica’s career extended FSU’s lead to 25 8:27 left. When Koprivica starts draining triples on you, you know the game is over. The big man also picked up a foul going iso to send the game to the under-eight media timeout, as the center’s skillset was on full display.

The Seminoles finished the night shooting 50% from the field, while going 13-24 from deep. Florida State turned the ball over just 5 times and forced 13 UVA turnovers, which led to a 21-4 advantage in points off turnovers. FSU out-rebounded Virginia by 6 and had 17 more bench points.

The ‘Noles were led by Walker’s 17 points, as the senior was 5-6 from beyond the arc. Walker also reeled in six boards. Gray contributed 15 points of his own on 6-10 shooting. Gray, Polite, and Barnes all had two steals. Barnes also posted six assists and seven points.