GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Devin Vassell scored 13 points, M.J. Walker added 12 and Florida State upset No. 6 Florida 63-51 Sunday, extending its series winning streak to six.
The Seminoles (1-1) avoided their first 0-2 start since 2000 thanks to suffocating defense that forced the rival Gators (1-1) into 16 turnovers and a woeful shooting performance. Florida was 14 of 50 from the field, including 4 of 22 from 3-point range.
Florida’s football team scored more points this week that its basketball team.
The Gators, a six-point favorite at home, expected some growing pains from a team that features graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., three sophomores and five freshmen. They clearly weren’t ready to match Florida State’s intensity.
A sellout crowd witnessed FSU take over late in the first half and really seize control after the break. The Gators went 10 minutes with just one field goal — a dunk on an inbound play — as Florida State pulled ahead 38-25 in the opening minutes of the second half. The ‘Noles went up by 14 on Anthony Polite’s 3-pointer with 9:31 to play.
The Seminoles made 11 of their first 20 shots in the second half. They also finished with five blocked shots and eight steals.
Malik Osborne chipped in 10 points for the visitors.
Keyontae Johnson led the Gators with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Blackshear had 10 points and 13 rebounds, his second double-double in as many games this season.
Florida State had little to worry about down the stretch, a common occurrence against Florida in recent years. The Gators lost to FSU by 17 points in 2017 and by 21 in the season opener last year.
The blowout last November set the tone for Florida’s up-and-down season. The Gators still made the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season under coach Mike White, but White decided to clean house in the offseason.
New roster, similar result.
Florida State: The Seminoles are the only Power 5 team to open the season with two true road games, losing by two points at Pittsburgh and then bouncing back against Florida, so coach Leonard Hamilton’s team might be better than many expected.
Florida: The Gators probably were overrated to begin the season because of the addition of Blackshear, the country’s most high-profile transfer. They expect their revamped roster to be considerably better and more in sync by the time Southeastern Conference play begins in January.
Florida State: Hosts Western Carolina on Friday. The Seminoles have won 18 consecutive home openers.
Florida: Hosts Towson on Thursday. The teams last played in 1988.