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Vassell, Williams lead Florida St. past Ga. Tech

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State knows its defense goes a long way.

The No. 18 Seminoles blocked nine shots and created 11 steals to beat Georgia Tech 70-58 Tuesday for their 15th straight home victory.

“They are very, very good defensively,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “We had 20 turnovers. Those turnovers, it’s just the difference.”

Florida State (12-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) leads the ACC with 9.6 steals a game. And that tenacity was critical for a team missing starting guard M.J. Walker (hip bruise) and backup center Balsa Koprivica (back bruise).

Coach Leonard Hamilton does not expect either injury to be long term. But even while short-handed the Seminoles had more than enough depth to pull away.

“There were periods in the second half where I thought our guys were really locked in,” Hamilton said. “We made some energy plays. That’s what happens when the quality of your depth is involved as much as it was. And our guys were a little fresher.”

Devin Vassell scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Seminoles while Patrick Williams added 12 points and Trent Forrest had eight points and six assists.

Michael Devoe scored 19 points, knocking down 6 of 8 three-point attempts for Georgia Tech (6-7, 1-2). Moses Wright added 13 points and 10 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season, but he also had six turnovers.

The Seminoles led 48-45 when they capitalized on a flagrant foul on forward Jordan Usher with 10:07 to go. Usher fouled Florida State guard Anthony Polite on a drive, and Polite made both free throws. RaiQuan Gray scored on a drive on the next possession. Vassell and Williams then followed with baskets in the next two minutes as Florida State went up 56-47 with 7:59 left.

“Just being able to persevere, come down the stretch and make big shots, make big plays, it just shows the character that we have,” Vassell said.

Vassell had eight points and Dominik Olejniczak added seven points in the second half for Florida State, which shot 53% after halftime to pull away.

The 20 turnovers by Georgia Tech were one short of its season high. Pastner, however, sees improvement during a 2-2 stretch.

“We are getting better these last four games,” he said. “I like the progress we are making.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State can make the case that it is capable of being a top 15 team, especially if the Seminoles win at No. 7 Louisville on Saturday.

DECADE-LONG RUN

Florida State finished the decade with a 224-110 record. That includes a 2012 ACC title, six NCAA Tournament appearances and three berths in the Sweet 16. The Seminoles are 57-3 in their last 60 home games.

TAKEAWAYS

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets managed just three bench points and wore out in the second half.

Florida State: Even without Walker and with Koprivica playing just two minutes, the Seminoles still had 10 players score points.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech: at North Carolina on Saturday.

Florida State: at Louisville on Saturday.

Koprivica, Olejniczak power Florida State past North Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Balsa Koprivica scored 15 points and fellow big man Dominik Olejniczak added 11 as No. 19 Florida State defeated North Florida 98-81 on Tuesday night.

The 7-footers were able to capitalize on their height advantage, making shots in the lane and leading the Seminoles to a 39-27 rebounding edge. Koprivica was 6 of 8 from the floor, while Olejniczak went 5 for 7.

M.J. Walker had 11 points, one of seven Seminoles who scored in double figures. Florida State (9-2) has won 12 straight home games in a streak that dates to the 2018-19 season.

Ivan Gandia-Rosa scored 23 points, knocking down four 3-pointers, for North Florida (7-6). Garrett Sams added 20 points, also making four 3s.

North Florida came into the game with 149 made 3-pointers, which led Division I. The Ospreys shot 13 of 34 (38.2%) from beyond the arc.

TAKEAWAYS

North Florida: The Ospreys tried to keep pace by taking 3-pointers, but they didn’t fall in the second half and Florida State often turned those rebounds into fast-break opportunities.

Florida State: The Seminoles showcased their 7-footers more than they have all season, an illustration of just how deep and dangerous the team can be in ACC play. Eleven players made a basket on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

North Florida: At Syracuse on Saturday.

Florida State: Faces South Florida on Saturday at Sunrise, Florida.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top 25

Green spurs late run to send Indiana past No. 17 Florida St

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Devonte Green scored a career-high 30 points and Trayce Jackson-Davis added 15, leading undefeated Indiana past No. 17 Florida State 80-64 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Indiana is 8-0 for the first time since 2012-13 and has beaten three straight ranked opponents under coach Archie Miller. The previous two came last season.

Trent Forrest had 13 points as the Seminoles’ seven-game winning streak ended. M.J. Walker and Devin Vassell each scored 10 for Florida State (7-2), which is 0-5 all-time against the Hoosiers.

Indiana, which led by 15 in the first half, spent most of the second period fending off Florida State. But the Hoosiers finally took control during a late sequence when Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith each made three of four free throws and Green scored on a driving layup and 17-foot jumper. Damezi Anderson completed the 13-2 run with a 3-pointer from the corner. When it ended, the Hoosiers led 72-58 with 3:31 to go and the Seminoles never seriously challenged again.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles are masters of winning ugly. But they were dreadful in the first half, getting outrebounded 17-10, going 2 of 8 on 3s and committing six turnovers. It was simply too big of a hole for Florida State to dig out of.

Indiana: At times, the Hoosiers looked downright impressive. At others, they looked as though they were still trying to find their way against the best opponent they’ve faced this season. But this was a good win and should give them momentum heading into the weekend.

STAT SHEET

Florida State: The Seminoles were outrebounded 35-25 and outscored in bench points 33-20. … Florida State came up with eight steals but was 7 of 19 on 3s. … The Seminoles hadn’t given up more than 74 points in their previous eight games this season.

Indiana: Jackson-Davis also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. … Smith finished with 14 points and five rebounds. … Green was 10 of 15 from the field and 5 of 7 on 3s. … Indiana went 7 of 15 on 3s and had 18 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Florida State resumes ACC play Sunday at home against Clemson.

The Hoosiers open Big Ten play Saturday at Wisconsin.

Gonzaga reaches Elite 8 with win against Florida State

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Duke may have the best cadre of NBA talent. Virginia may be more disciplined. North Carolina may have more tradition.

The three No. 1 seeds that are not Gonzaga all have something the Bulldogs don’t. That’s not all they have in common, though.

None are as good, consistently high-level as the ‘Zags.

All of Gonzaga’s powers were on display Thursday as they got up big and then held No. 4 Florida State at bay in a Sweet 16 matchup in Anaheim to claim a 72-58 victory at the Honda Center to move a game away from the program’s second Final Four in three years.

Gonzaga has a brilliant chance to do what that 2017 group couldn’t.

Win a national championship.

With two likely-lottery picks in Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke wreaking havoc on both ends of the floor, dynamic guards like Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell, Jr. and high-level role players like Geno Crandall, Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie (an NBA prospect in his own right demoted due to injury), Gonzaga has the talent, experience and versatility to be the class of the country.

It’s certainly not breaking news, but it’s worth a reminder after a loss to St. Mary’s in the WCC title game brought back the old questions about how built the Zags were for the Big Dance.

It’s hard to picture something constructed in a better position to thrive in March.

Clarke is a two-way force of nature who has become one of the country’s premier players. He scores (15 points), rebounds (12 boards), protects the rim (5 blocks) and can defend in space. He’s basically Zion Williamson West with less-cool-but-pretty-cool dunks (and highest-end NBA potential).

Hachimura, who had 17 points and four rebounds, has been the better NBA prospect of the two, but that’s maybe debatable now. Not because of anything Hachimura has done, though. He’s still a lotto pick. He and Clarke are an incredible duo.

They aren’t alone, though, and it was clear in Gonzaga’s control of the Seminoles, who trailed for all but 11 seconds of the game.

The Bulldogs led by as many as 14 in the first half, but Florida State trimmed it to four in the final minutes of the game before ultimately stopping short of completing the comeback . That’s when Gonzaga ripped off seven-straight points to finish the game. The talent, the experience and let’s not forget Mark Few is pretty good at this coaching thing, too. 

Everyone knows Gonzaga is good, but just look at not only what they did to Florida State, but how they got contributions from up and down the lineup. Norvell had 15 points. Perkins had 14 points and five assists. Kispert added seven points while Tillie and Crandall gave boosts off the bench.

Trent Forrest was the only Seminole player to notch double figures, finishing with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting.

Gonzaga basketball may as well go dormant for two months in the winter during WCC play, but don’t forget this is the team that topped Duke – without Tillie – to win the Maui Invitational. This is the program that hung with the Tar Heels until the end in the 2017 title game.

They’re not Duke, Virginia, North Carolina or any other team left in the field.

They’re better.

WATCH: Terance Mann, Brandon Clarke throw down Sweet slams

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It’s going to be hard for there to be a better pair of dunks Thursday – or maybe the rest of the week – then the pair that Terance Mann and Brandon Clarke threw down in quick succession in a Sweet 16 matchup between Florida State and Gonzaga.

First, was Mann, going coast-to-coast, looking like he was going to lay it in and then remembering that dunking is way cooler so doing that instead.

Next came Clarke in transition, throwing doing down a tip-dunk that just Mann look like a guy that should just do layups.

 

Phil Cofer not expected to play in Sweet 16 after father’s death

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Florida State senior Phil Cofer is not expected to play Thursday in the Seminoles’ Sweet 16 matchup against Gonzaga as he mourns the passing of his father, Sports Illustrated’s Jon Rothstein reported Monday.

“We’re going to respect Phil during this tragedy and the passing of his father,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton told Rothstein. “He knows where we are and we know where he is. We’re here for him.”

Cofer was sitting out the Seminoles’ first-round win against Vermont with a foot injury, and was alerted after the game of his father’s passing in a phone call from his mother.

Michael Cofer, who attended Tennessee and played ten seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, was 58 years old.

Florida State defeated Vermont, 76-69, and then defeated Murray State, 90-62, in a game in which Cofer also did not play, to make the second weekend for the second-straight season.

Cofer has averaged 26.1 minutes per game this season for the Seminoles, who will face the top-seeded Bulldogs on Thursday at 7:09 p.m.