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No. 12 FSU upsets No. 2 Virginia, advances to ACC Championship

The ’Noles will face the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Florida State vs Virginia Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 4th-seeded Florida State Seminoles shocked the world in a 69-59 victory over the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, advancing the ’Noles to the final for the first time since 2012. Florida State opened 2019 by losing on the road to the Cavaliers, 65-52. The loss was the start of a 1-4 start in ACC play for the Seminoles and tonight’s upset provided a fairy-tale finish to Florida State’s nightmare of a start.

FSU started off on the front foot Friday evening, as Phil Cofer drilled a three pointer on the Seminoles’ first possession. The defense did its part, as well, completely shutting Kyle Guy down for the first 13 minutes. However, great scorers find a way, and Guy would eventually find his groove finishing the first half with 11 points. UVA was able to keep it close largely thanks to Florida State’s turnovers. The Seminoles turned the ball over seven times gifting Virginia ten points in the first twenty minutes. Florida State’s sixth-man, Mfiondu Kabengele, found himself in foul-trouble early scoring just two points before picking up two fouls in only six minutes played. Kabengele would sit out for the rest of the half. The Cavs came into tonight’s contest ranked No. 3 nationally from long-range making 41.4 percent of threes. At the end of the first half Virginia was only 2-11 compared to 4-10 for the ’Noles.

The Seminoles headed into the second half with a 35-31 lead. Virginia appeared to finally gain some momentum taking a 42-41 lead with 15:55 left in regulation, its first advantage since it was 8-7 early in the first half. The teams traded buckets and then Florida State went on a 13-1 run after Ty Jerome hit a three with 12:01 to go, holding UVA to just one point on a DeAndre Hunter free throw over a span of 6:22, stretching the lead to 62-49. The Cavaliers looked to cut it close, and Florida State seemed willing to assist in that effort. With Florida State’s lead cut to just six at 65-59, MJ Walker turned the ball over on a 4-on-1 break with under a minute to go, the thirteenth turnover for the Seminoles on the evening. UVA was unable to capitalize missing from outside the arc leading Kyle Guy to put Kabengele on the charity stripe, ultimately sealing Virginia’s fate after the redshirt-sophomore made both. Terance Mann punctuated the Seminoles’ performance scoring his first points of the night with a slam, giving the Seminoles the 69-59 win.

Albany graduate transfer David Nichols led the Seminoles to the upset, putting together his best performance of the year scoring 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. He would be named the player of the game. 5th year senior Phil Cofer added 11 points on a team-leading three made 3s. Kabengele had 10 points and added two big blocks. And senior point guard Trent Forrest had 10 points, as well, while adding his trademark shutdown defense. Senior center Christ Koumadje just missed out on his third career double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds.

Overall, the Seminoles had one of their better offensive games, shooting 56% from the field and 38% from three and scoring 1.18 points per possession against a notoriously stingy Virginia defense. UVA on the other hand struggled offensively, shooting 42% from the field and knocking down just 5-24 (21%) from deep. Florida State stopped Virginia’s leading scorer Kyle Guy cold, keeping him from putting any points on the board in the second half.

FSU will play in Saturday’s ACC Tournament Championship Game on ESPN at 8:30 PM. They’ll face the winner of tonight’s semifinal between 2-seeded North Carolina and 3-seeded Duke.