NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ninth-seeded Florida State has lots of guys who can score, and the Seminoles used that depth to win their fourth straight NCAA Tournament opener.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points, and Florida State beat No. 8 seed Missouri 67-54 on Friday night in the West Region.
Florida State (21-11) will play No. 1 seed Xavier in the second round on Sunday.
PJ Savoy had 12 points and Phil Cofer scored 11. A total of 10 Seminoles scored at least two points apiece — by halftime — as they wore out Missouri, which had only eight healthy players available.
This was the first trip to the tournament for every player on the roster for Missouri (20-13). Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA trip since 2013 with the program’s fourth straight loss in a first round.
Kassius Robertson had 19 points for Missouri. Michael Porter Jr. scored 16 in what might be his final college game, with 13 in the second half. Missouri never got closer than six in the second half before the Seminoles sealed the win with 15 straight points.
The Tigers started well enough as Robertson opened the game with a 3-pointer, and Missouri scored seven of the first eight points.
That’s when Florida State woke up.
Cofer scored on a tip-in, starting an 11-0 run capped by Savoy’s 3-pointer. That would up as part of a 20-4 spurt capped by a 3-pointer by Braian Angola midway through the half. Florida State went into intermission up 42-20, and all 10 Seminoles who played scored.
This was just the third game this season for Porter, the possible NBA lottery pick who suffered a back injury in Missouri’s season opener. Even with another week of practice since the Southeastern Conference Tournament, he looked rusty. Porter had the ball stolen from him with 7:55 left in the first half and followed that up just over a minute later with an airball jumper.
The Tigers pulled within 52-44 on a pair of free throws by Porter as Missouri opened the second half by outscoring Florida State 24-8.
Cofer hit two of three free throws to start a 15-0 spurt that pushed the lead back to double digits. By the time Missouri scored again, Jontay Porter’s jumper with 5:08 left only pulled the Tigers within 65-46.
Florida State: The Seminoles came in having lost three of four. But they came in as the ACC’s third-highest scoring team, averaging 81.8 points a game, and they showed off their offense by smothering Missouri in points.
Missouri: The Tigers will never know how much having their second-leading scorer might have helped. Guard Jordan Barnett was suspended from Missouri’s first-round game after being arrested for driving while intoxicated last week . The senior guard was averaging 13.7 points per game.
Florida State: Playing Xavier for a trip to the Sweet 16.
Missouri: Waiting to see if Michael Porter Jr. enjoyed college life enough to stick around for his sophomore season or chooses to enter the NBA draft as a possible lottery pick.