The No. 13 Virginia Cavaliers traveled to Tallahassee for a weekend matchup against the Florida State Seminoles. Virginia was fresh off back-to-back wins against ACC opponents, while FSU entered the game losing two of their last three. The momentum within Florida State’s program has been on the rise, but that fire they played with in the new year definitely lost its spark. Florida State fell to the Cavaliers 67-58 after a slow game from both sides.
Player of the game: Freshman Cameron Corhen led the Noles in the efficiency category. Corhen shot 6-8 from the field and 2-2 from the charity stripe, putting 15 points in the stat-sheet.
Head coach Leonard Hamilton and the staff rolled with Jalen Warley, Darin Green Jr., Caleb Mills, Matthew Cleveland, and Cameron Corhen in the starting lineup.
Corhen scored two straight buckets to start the game, taking advantage of a rusty Virginia squad. After the Noles took an early lead, the Cavaliers scored four straight field goals to push Florida State into an 11-7 deficit. It was the same old story for the Seminoles as Virginia knocked down their first three three-point attempts.
At the first timeout the Noles were down 14-9. In the first couple of seconds off the break, Virginia sunk in another three ball to extend the lead. Freshman Chandler Jackson was the first off the bench for the Seminoles, replacing Mills. Hamilton went right back to the drawing board after constant success from beyond the arc by Virginia. With 12:41 left in the half, the Cavaliers led 20-9.
Virginia’s Ben Vander Plas began the game 3-4 from distance, notching 11 points and three rebounds. As the Cavaliers rode a 19-4 run, the Seminoles were one for eight on field goals within a seven minute span. The highest scorer for Florida State was Green with three points at the halfway mark.
Green broke the ice for the Seminoles, finally putting the ball in the bottom of the net, which was rather dry for a few minutes. At the 6:54 mark, Virginia led 24-16. Florida State was having immense struggle on the offensive end, aside from Cleveland putting the team on his back. They were having trouble in the assist category, which isn’t a problem for a Virginia team that sets up their players from the block to the wing.
Cleveland led the Noles with seven points and four rebounds, helping FSU score four of their last five field goals with two minutes remaining. Virginia had a 33-23 lead, behind a combined 24 points from Vander Plas and Armaan Franklin.
Florida State went into the half with a 33-25 deficit. The Noles were shooting 30% from three and 37% from the field, giving up six early threes to the Cavaliers.
Warley and Kihei Clark exchanged baskets to start the second half, but the Noles carried the momentum with a focus they had trouble displaying in the first. Clark had a quiet first half, quickly picking up the pace after the break. He started the match 1-4 and turned that around into five points in two minutes.
Virginia held a 43-32 lead with 13:44 remaining in the second half. The Cavaliers and Noles were going back and forth with their slow offensive drives, but Florida State couldn’t seem to defend the three-point line with any success. FSU put themselves into a double-digit hole, with the problem being FSU’s consistency on offense. The Noles would score from time to time, but they didn’t have a flow in their offense that led to buckets without forcing an isolation attempt.
The Cavaliers scored six of their last eight field goals and Hamilton whistled for a timeout. With just under 10 minutes remaining the fans started to walk and and the game looked too far in reach of the Seminoles, down 56-40. The Noles might’ve been playing in the biggest home crowd they’ve seen all year and the game was all but exciting.
It’s tough to play against a team shooting 52% from three, which is exactly what UVA was doing. With 7:32 left in the game, Virginia poured in 11 of their 21 three-point attempts. It was an average game from both parties, but FSU’s kryptonite (defending the three) was highlighted yet again.
Virginia held a 65-51 lead with just under four minutes remaining. They were outperformed in the effort category, as well as the fact that UVA had the sheer skill to defeat the Noles handily. Despite a three ball from Corhen late in the game, the Noles were too far behind.
Next game: The Seminoles head to South Bend on Jan. 17 for a matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has a 72.7% chance to win, according to ESPN Analytics. The game will be featured on ESPNU.