Florida State’s upset bid to No. 3 Virginia comes close

For the second time this week, the Florida State men’s basketball team went up against a top-five team on Saturday afternoon.

Despite the team’s well-documented struggles this season, the Seminoles went on the road and led No. 3 Virginia 22-21 at the half in their ACC opener on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, these games last 40 minutes. And a brutal second-half center stroke doomed FSU’s upset bid.

The third-ranked Cavaliers (7-0, 1-0 in ACC play) overcame their slow start to outlast the Seminoles (1-9, 0-1) 62-57 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday afternoon.

After UVA led by as many as 12 points on multiple occasions, the Seminoles cut the deficit to as low as four in the final minute and owned the ball with the ability to cut it short. However, Caleb Mills’ subsequent infield pass led to a turnover and potentially injury to Cam’Ron Fletcher when he landed with the ball.

The Seminoles had two separate periods of more than four minutes without scoring in the second half. They held their own against the Cavaliers in several stages. They won the rebounding battle 40-38 and committed 13 turnovers to UVA’s 12. But FSU’s 32.8% shooting percentage against a tough Cavaliers defense was too much to overcome.

The Seminoles also managed to hold UVA to a season-low 35.3% shooting percentage, but that discrepancy was too much for the Seminoles to overcome.

Darin Green Jr. led FSU with 17 points in the loss, adding to his team’s lead in scoring average. He now has 10-plus points in three of FSU’s last four games and has 17-plus points in four games this season.

Matthew Cleveland also finished with his third career double-double for the Seminoles, scoring 11 points and adding 10 rebounds.

Virginia guard Kihei Clark led all scorers with 18 points.

FSU stifles Virginia’s offense early

While Virginia is not normally known for high scoring numbers, this was a major factor in the Cavaliers’ 6-0 start. UVA entered Saturday having scored more than 70 points in every game this season and just outside the top 100 in scoring, an unfamiliar place for Virginia’s normally slow and methodical offense.

Still, FSU’s defense, which played well but not particularly consistently at times, did enough to rock the Cavaliers early in Saturday’s game.

Whether it was the way FSU defends or just a slow start by the Cavaliers, UVA managed just 21 points in the first half, shooting 6-of-26 from the field (23.1%).

Although FSU led in the first half, they weren’t really able to capitalize on this crisis. The Seminoles’ 25% shooting percentage in the first half wasn’t much better, keeping them from opening up a lead that would have been harder to erase.

The Cavaliers made six of their seven shots in the second and shot a much improved 48% from the floor in the second half.

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