Gainesville — Six in a row against the No. 6 team in the country.
Looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2000, the Florida State basketball team had to go into enemy territory and take on the No. 6 Florida Gators on the road.
In spite of the odds, the Seminoles (1-1, 0-1 in ACC) were up to the task, overcoming a slow start from both teams to beat the Gators (1-1) 63-51 Sunday at UF’s Exactech Arena.
It’s FSU’s sixth straight win over the Gators, twice as long a win streak as the Seminoles had ever previously had over UF. It’s also the first time in program history FSU has won three straight games in Gainesville.
After a closely-contested half where neither team led by more than five points, FSU opened up the lead that made the difference at the start of the second half
The Seminoles came out of halftime on a 13-4 run that extended their four-point halftime lead to 13 points. That lead remained double-digits for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore Devin Vassell led the Seminoles with 13 points on 6 of 15 shooting with five rebounds.
Senior point guard Trent Forrest made just one of his seven shots, but he finished with eight points, a team-high eight rebounds and six assists.
Both teams got off to a slow start as the Seminoles limped out to a 25-21 halftime lead despite shooting 25% from the floor and 11.1% from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
The Seminoles held the Gators to 22.2% in the first half, largely limiting the Gators despite their effort to slow the game down and take away FSU’s transition game.
Out of halftime, the Seminoles began heating up, shooting 45.2% in the second half (50% from three). The Gators did not match that improvement, shooting 34.8% in the second half and 28% for the game.
The Seminoles limited UF by taking away many of their best offensive weapons. Virginia Tech transfer and SEC Preseason Player of the Year Kerry Blackshear Jr. finished with 10 points. All of those came from the free-throw line as he missed all five of his shots from the floor, although he did have 13 rebounds.
UF’s two true freshman five stars, Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis, had a combined seven points on 1 of 9 shooting.
After an offensively underwhelming FSU debut Wednesday at Pitt, Rice transfer Malik Osborne made his presence felt on the offensive end against UF. He finished with 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting
Player of the Game
Vassell earns the honor for the second time in as many games. He led the Seminoles in scoring and added six rebounds.
Each time UF threatened to make a run, Vassell seemed to have a response that stifled the run. He responded with a three-pointer after UF cut the deficit to 11 points with 5:46 left. He finished a layup through contact on the next possession after UF responded with a pair of free throws.
Vassell flashed his potential in spurts as a freshman. Through two games this season, he’s realizing much of it and rising up to the larger role that has been asked of him.
3: FSU had three turnovers in the second half of the UF game and only nine in the game. UF, on the other hand, committed 16.
4: The win over No. 6 UF gives the Seminoles a win over a Top-10 opponent in four consecutive seasons.
6: UF finished with just six assists on 13 made baskets. The Seminoles stifled UF’s offense throughout the game and largely limited ball movement, impacting UF’s offense.
After consecutive road games to start the season, FSU finally opens its home schedule Friday against Western Carolina (1-1) at 7 p.m. at the Tucker Civic Center. It’s the first game of a four-game homestand over 11 days.
You can reach Curt Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org.