A 9-0 run two thirds of the way through the second half gave the Seminoles the lead for good in pulling away from Virginia 68-57. Following a short jump shot in the lane by Solomon Alabi, Uche Echefu was all alone on the left base line connecting on the 10 footer.
Making probably the play of the game, Jordan DeMercy blocked the shot of Sylvan Landesberg driving in from the right side. Pulling down the loose ball, Demercy fired a long outlet pass to a streaking Toney Douglas for the easy layup.
After a Virginia timeout the Seminoles played excellent defense is forcing an off balance shot by Sam Zeglinksi with one second left on the shot clock. Douglas took the ball quickly down the court driving into the lane kicking the ball out to Devidas Dulkys for the wide open three pointer from the right corner.
The scoring flurry broke open a back and forth game giving the ‘Noles a 52-43 lead with 4:20 left in the game.
The closest the Cavaliers would get was 54-48 when Calvin Baker hit a three with Douglas greatly contesting the shot.
But FSU answered when Alabi slammed in one handed a missed Douglas layup. On the other end DeMercy drew a charging call on Jeff Jones.
With time short the Cavaliers were forced into poor shots such as the 26 foot three point attempt by Zeglinski and sent the Seminoles to the free throw line who connected on 8 of their 10 trips to the stripe.
FSU's largest lead came with just 16 seconds left when DeMercy grabbed the rebound and launched a long pass to a wide open Echefu who slammed the ball in.
Douglas once again led the ‘Noles in scoring with 19 points with 14 coming in the second half along with dishing out 7 assists against just 2 turnovers.
Echefu, who turns 23 on Wednesday, celebrated his birthday with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Also in double figures was Alabi with 13 points along with 6 boards and 2 blocked shots.
Landesberg was the only Cavalier in double digits with 14 points.
The game began with a similar feel to the game earlier in the season when both teams struggled to score. Although not quite to the level of the game three weeks ago, FSU shot just 26% in the first half. The Cavs were not any better at 28% that included just 1 of 13 from behind the arc.
Virginia held a 22-20 lead at intermission primarily on the strength of dominating the boards by more than double 29-14. Virginia had 14 offensive rebounds but turned the ball over 10 times.
That rebounding statistic did not go unnoticed by Leonard Hamilton who made it clear it was addressed in the locker room. "We must not have addressed it too well however as I believe they got seven more (offensive boards) in the second half", Hamilton said.
"We did a poor job of rebounding in the first half. We just didn't put a body on someone. If we have those issues going into Wake Forest, we simply are not going to win games that way", Hamilton added.
In the second half the Seminoles blistered the nets at a 71% rate. Hamilton felt that while the shots were there in the first half, they just didn't fall. "We missed open looks in the first half. But the shots started dropping and I felt we got better penetration", Hamilton commented.
But as usual Hamilton was more pleased with his defense and in particular credited DeMercy and Dulkys work. "You have to make plays (speaking about DeMercy's blocked shot) and I thought that Jordan and Dulkys did an excellent job. Dulkys worked through screens and got into the passing lanes tonight."
With the win FSU (19-5, 6-3) is off to its best start in the ACC since the 1992-1993 season.
Next up for the Seminoles is a trip to Winston Salem to take on the 7th ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Tip off is at 4:00 PM and will be televised by Raycom.