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GAINESVILLE, FL — Four straight.
Behind a gritty defensive effort and a monstrous day on the glass, Florida State convincingly beat No. 5 Florida 83-66 on the road to secure its fourth-consecutive win over the Gators.
Terance Mann led the Noles with 25 points eight 8 rebounds as FSU ran away with a big non-conference win in front of an over-capacity crowd of 10,425 at Exactech Arena.
“We played with so much aggressiveness and toughness tonight,” FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said following the game. “UF brought the best out of us tonight, and hopefully we’ll continue to grow.”
Florida State got out to a hot start, opening on a 10-1 run thanks to early 3-pointers by CJ Walker and Braian Angola.
The Gators re-took the lead at 18-14 after an Egor Koulechov triple, but the Seminoles quickly responded with a 7-0 run thanks to Mann.
An and-one finish from the junior was followed up with another layup and an alley-oop to give FSU a 24-18 lead with 7:30 left in the first half.
The Noles would hold the lead for most of the half as they routinely got into the passing lanes and forced the Gators into turnovers. Trailing 35-34, FSU exploded on an 8-0 run, capped by a monstrous alley-oop dunk by Phil Cofer. The senior grabbed a lob from MJ Walker and slammed it home with one hand to emphatically end the half as the Noles led 42-35 heading into the break.
“We wanted to make sure coming out of the half that we started over and treated the game as zero-zero,” Trent Forrest said on the team’s mentality starting the second half. “We made sure to emphasize getting on the glass as well, it’s an area we’ve wanted to improve on.”
Early in the second half the Noles continued to push the pace, going on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 56-44 with 13:39 left, a stretch ignited by back-to-back deep shots from CJ Walker. FSU switched into a 2-3 zone to mix up looks and stymie the Gators early in the half.
“My teammates believe in me and they want me to take those shots,” Walker said. “I said over the summer it was something I would do, if the team needed me to be that guy, whatever it takes to win.”
An MJ Walker triple and a tip-in by Cofer gave FSU its largest lead of the game at 61-47. From there the rout was on as the Seminoles never looked back. Highlighting the big second half, FSU held UF without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes.
As the fans in orange and blue began to head for the exits, the Noles continued to expand their lead. Mann made seemingly everything he put up, including a slew of acrobatic put-backs. An aggressive Seminole squad continued to attack the rim to aid Mann’s effort and a strong showing from the free-throw line (20-24) put the game out of reach.
A dunk by Ike Obiagu and a triple from Angola put the icing on the cake, extending FSU’s lead to 83-64.
“We stayed focused for an entire 40 minutes. We know we can do something big this year,” Angola said. “We stayed together the entire time and played great defense.”
On the evening, the Noles dominated the Gators on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 51-34. FSU turned 23 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points. The Noles turned the Gators over 17 times and cashed those into 19 points off turnovers. FSU’s stingy defensive effort resulted in the normally hot-shooting Gators making just 36 percent from the floor and only 24 percent from behind the arc.
CJ Walker added 17 points in the victory, while Phil Cofer recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“This is a great win for Florida State’s program,” Walker said. “This is a big win for us going forward, we have to keep this level of focus.”