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FSU basketball avoids disaster in win over Pitt

It was ugly for 33 minutes, and then FSU stepped on the gas

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

One way for Pittsburgh to beat Florida State would be to go bananas from deep. Another, would be if the Seminoles were without key players. This evening, both those things happened, but FSU was able to close with a 14-4 run to beat Pitt, 88-75.

The game got off to a rocky start, and not because of what was happening on the floor. It was who was on the floor. Neither Terance Mann nor Braian Angola were in the starting lineup. And neither would play in the first half (coach’s decision).

PJ Savoy got the start, and scored FSU’s first six points on back-to-back 3s. But then it was PItt’s turn to start knocking down long range jumpers. Entering the game 291st in 3-pt%, they promptly knocked down nine of their first 13, and ended with 10 in the half.

At the break, after a buzzer beating three by the Panthers, it was 39-38, Pitt.

The 2nd half began with the same starting five for FSU, who quickly went on a 9-2 run. Then Terance Mann finally entered the game...

...and immediately gave up a 3-point play.

Still, with Mann (and then Angola), FSU seemed more energized, and they kept threatening to put the game out of reach.

They built the lead to 10 with 12:30 to play, but the Panthers clawed their way back, eventually tying the game with 6:39 to play.

On FSU’s next possession, Phil Cofer came up with a huge offensive board to put the ‘Noles back in front.

After a Pitt turnover, Cofer hit two free throws to stretch the lead to four.

Pitt’s 12th three cut it to one, and it looked like this one was in real danger. Had FSU lost, it would have been the worst loss in Coach Hamilton’s tenure.

Luckily, the ‘Noles saved their best for last.

Over the next four minutes, the one-point lead quickly ballooned to 10. And then Terance Mann put a punctuation mark on things with a drive and a posterizing dunk.

FSU escaped 88-75.

PJ Savoy hit 5-7 3s on his way to a team high 18 points. MJ Walker and Phil Cofer each scored 14. Mfiondu Kabengele had 13 points and six rebounds. And Trent Forrest had another excellent game, scoring 12 to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

Florida State improves to 19-8 (8-7), and has a week off before playing at North Carolina State next Sunday.