TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Highly touted freshman Scottie Barnes scored 17 points and No. 20 Florida State extended its dominance against rival Florida with an 83-71 victory Saturday that came after the Gators’ best player collapsed on the court and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Keyontae Johnson, the Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, was taken off the floor on a stretcher in the opening minutes and transported to Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation. Florida officials said he was in critical but stable condition.
The junior from Norfolk, Virginia, had just dunked in transition before he crumpled without warning as the team broke its huddle. Several Gators were in tears and a couple buried their faces in towels as coach Mike White gathered his team for a prayer.
The game continued after a brief break, but the Gators weren’t the same after witnessing a teammate deal with a medical emergency.
Florida (3-1) was ahead 11-3 after Johnson’s dunk. The Seminoles (3-0) scored the next seven points and pulled away from there. They outscored the Gators 42-24 in the first half after Johnson was stricken.
The Seminoles led by as many as 18 in the second half. They ended up extending their winning streak against Florida to seven games, tying the longest by either team in the series. They also stretched their winning streak against nonconference opponents at home to 41 and won their 26th straight at home.
Barnes, Anthony Polite and M.J. Walker made this one look easy most of the day. Barnes, the top-rated recruit of coach Leonard Hamilton’s tenure in Tallahassee, had two thunderous dunks and was 7-of-10 shooting. Polite hit three 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Walker was perfect from the free-throw line, draining all 12 attempts, and ended up with 17 points.
Florida’s Scottie Lewis, who was crying and clearly affected by Johnson’s ordeal, tied a career high with 19 points. Tre Mann added 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Gators got little from anyone else.
Johnson probably would have been a factor. He averaged a team-high 14 points last season to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the Gators with 38 steals. He had five points in four minutes Saturday.
Like most of his teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. The coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle, and it is common for athletes. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID tests.
Florida: It’s impossible to know how the Gators would have played with Johnson. It clearly bothered his teammates and coaches for the rest of the game.
Florida State: The Seminoles, who were ranked No. 4 in the country when the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019-20 postseason, should be a factor in the Atlantic Coast Conference again this year. They have the fourth-biggest team in the country, a dynamic point guard in Barnes and an experienced leader in Walker.
Florida: Hosts North Florida on Wednesday night. The Gators have won all nine meetings between the teams.
Florida State: Begins Atlantic Coast Conference play against Georgia Tech on Tuesday night.