Virginia placed five players in double figures representing a balanced scoring attack. It was the perimeter game clicking along in the first half as Derrick Byars came off the bench to score 15 points that included 4 of 4 from three-point land. His backcourt teammate Todd Billet scored 14 points.
When FSU finally defended the outside better, Travis Watson went to work with15 points in the second half and 20 for the game. Frontcourt teammates Elton Brown added 14.and small forward Jason Clark scored 12.
Tim Pickett again led the Seminoles with 21 points with 18 coming in the second half. But, when the Seminoles needed points, they just could not get it. Anthony Richardson kept the ‘Noles in the game in the first half with 11 points and finished with 17. Todd Galloway's 12 points rounded out FSU players in double figures.
An extremely disappointed Leonard Hamilton felt his team did not display the consistent mentality needed to come away with the road victory. FSU remains winless on the road in ACC competition this season. Hamilton saying that this team is better than what was on display tonight hopes to learn something from it in preparation for Sunday's 8:00 PM contest with Duke in Tallahassee.
What the game came down to was free throws and three-point shots. As was the case versus Wake Forest, Virginia made more free throws than FSU attempted. The Cavs were 18 of 28 to just 9 of 16 for Florida State. From behind the arc, the Cavs shot a stellar 55% on 11 of 20 attempts. While FSU was a not too shabby 9 of 20, three of those came with just a couple of minutes left in the game in an attempt to come back from a 17 point deficit.
The Seminoles managed to take an 18-12 first half lead 8:01 into the game. Nate Johnson stole the ball getting to Pickett. Pickett lobbed a pass to Richardson for the slam-dunk. Cavalier Head Coach Pete Gillen immediately called a timeout that apparently got the attention of his team. The Cavs went on a 13-2 run following the timeout and never trailed again.
It was the combination of Keith Jenifer and Byars that was the key to the run. Byars made four straight baskets, three of which were three-pointers. Jenifer assisted on three of the four baskets. A three-pointer by Byars off the inbound play gave UVa a 25-20 lead with 8:50 left in the half.
FSU worked its way back to a one-point deficit, 26-25 when Galloway made one of FSU's seven steals and took it the length of the court dumping it off to Richardson for the basket. Fouled on the play, Richardson converted the free throw at the 5:22 mark.
Virginia went to a zone defense shortly afterwards that FSU could not solve. A lone three-pointer by Joiner ended the Seminoles' scoring for the half. What represented how out of sync the ‘Noles were was a botched 3 on 2 break that ended with the ball bouncing out of bounds off Pickett's hands.
Meanwhile all of Virginia's double figure scorers were busy building a 38-28 halftime lead. FSU had an opportunity to close it to eight, but Galloway was called for charging with six seconds left.
What appeared to be a good defensive effort to begin the second half by the ‘Noles quickly turned south. Both teams were cold from the floor. But, Billet rattled in a three, Brown had two consecutive baskets and Devon Smith hit a three from the corner. With 4:09 gone in the second, Virginia rapidly built a 16-point lead, 48-32. It was the run that FSU just could not overcome.
In what appeared to be a slight chance to maybe pull out the win, Richardson went to the line when he was fouled driving to the hoop. The score was 65-52 with 6:57 to play. The 80% free throw shooter missed both shots. Although Michael Joiner gathered in the rebound, the ‘Noles could not put it in the basket. Instead Brown powered his way to the rim and Majestic Mapp nailed a three to give the Cavs their largest lead at 70-52.
With time running out, Florida State had to foul which Virginia converted at the line for the most part.
With an extremely slight chance again to maybe make it a tight game, another key moment occurred with just under two minutes to play. Galloway had just scored to make the score 79-69. He was fouled on the play, but failed to convert the free throw. Twenty seconds later Joiner was fouled missing both charity shots thus ending any chance the Seminoles had to eek out the victory.
Hamilton called off the press foul shortly after that.
The loss marks the 12th straight ACC road loss for the Seminoles (10-8, 1-6).
The game against Duke is expected to be a sellout as few tickets remain on sale. The game will be aired of Fox Sports as part of the ACC Sunday night TV package.