The Seminoles controlled the opening tip, and Phil Cofer quickly hit a midrange turnaround jumper. He would nail another one two possessions later and then go scoreless for the rest of half. Florida State would not trail before halftime, but the Wolfpack tied the score three times and remained close outside of an 8-point lead by FSU with 8-minutes left before the break. NC State got a boost from their bench’s 18 points, including a team-leading 9 from DJ Funderbunk, in the 1st Half. M.J. Walker led all scorers with 11 points, followed closely by 9 from Mfiondu Kabengele.
Rebounding overall in the 1st Half was even, with FSU having a 19-18 advantage on the boards. However, NC State outrebounded the Seminoles 6-2 on the offensive glass and led in second-chance points by an identical 6-2 margin. Christ Koumadje protected the rim early with 2 blocks in the first 2 minutes of play. Two more rejections from Kabengele and 1 from Devin Vassell gave FSU 5 blocks in the first twenty minutes.
The Seminoles struggled with NC State’s press, turning the ball over 10 times in the 1st Half which the Pack converted into only 4 points. 23 total fouls were called in the half, with FSU going 6-11 (54.5%) to NC State’s 11-15 (73.3%) from the line. The Wolfpack were able to stay close despite shooting only 27% from the field to FSU’s 52%. Both teams were 33% on 3-9 from three. After the buzzer sounded on a half of pretty ugly play, FSU was ahead 35-30.
After the lead stretched to 9 early in the 2nd Half, the Wolfpack were able to keep it close before FSU got out to a 7 point lead only for the score to be tied 63-63 when the third media timeout came with 6:44 remaining. FSU could never quite pull away as NC State kept cutting the lead back to a couple of points. The ’Noles finished with a 37-30 rebounding advantage and caught up on the offensive glass with both teams logging 11. The Seminoles added 4 2nd Half blocks for a total of 9 on the day. Kabengele led the way with 4 swats, and Koumadje finished with 3 of his own.
The ’Noles secured the ball better in the 2nd Half, but still finished with 16 turnovers in the game. With 44 total personal fouls called in this matchup, FSU went 23-30 (77%) from the line to NC State’s 16-21 (76%). NC State shot 41%, going 24-59 from the field, and hit 9-19 (47%) from three. FSU went 26-54 (48%) from the field but only connected on 3-13 (23%) from beyond the arc.
Holding a 3-point lead with under 8 seconds left, FSU decided to foul Braxton Beverly, a 74.4% free-throw shooter, and send him to the line for a one and one. Beverly missed, and Kabengele was fouled after securing the rebound. Kabengele would make both foul shots on the other end, and Florida State got the win, 78-73.
Kabengele led the ’Noles in points with 16, and M.J. Walker added 15. Despite the game being close throughout, FSU never trailed the Wolfpack.