The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers got the 2019 ACC slate off to a hot start, dominating the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles 65-52. Virginia’s defense was smothering, limiting FSU’s leading scorer — Terance Mann — to no points on 0-for-3 shooting. The game wasn’t even as close as the score indicates as FSU pressed and scored 18 points in the final 2:30 of the game against Virginia’s back up players.
Kyle Guy picked up right where he left off from the Marshall game, going 7-for-11 from the field (5-for-6 from three) for 21 points. He set a new Virginia record with consecutive made threes, blowing the last record out of the water:
Alabama transfer Braxton Key was outstanding, setting a new career high as a Wahoo with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting (2-for-5 from three). He added six rebounds and a steal, and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter combined to go 4-for-19 for 12 points in an off shooting day for the duo, but each added in other areas. Jerome had six assists with just one turnover, while Hunter added six rebounds.
As a team, Virginia shot 40% from the field and 44% from three in the game, but just 32% in the second half. Virginia finished with 11 turnovers, six of which game in the final 2:18 of the game.
FSU’s Phil Cofer led the Noles with nine points, followed by M.J. Walker with seven (all in the first half). The Noles finished 15-for-44 (34%) from the field, and made 6-of-23 (26%) from behind the arc. The Seminoles turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 21 points for Virginia.
Before starting lineups were announced, the arena held a moment of silence for former Virginia head football coach George Welsh, who passed away on January 2nd at the age of 85.
Neither team scored on their opening possession as Jerome missed a runner in the lane and Florida State turned it over late in the shot clock. Jerome drew a foul on the second possession and gave the Hoos a lead with two made free throws. The Virginia defense employed the 3⁄4 press early, making things tough for a Seminole team that is prone to turning the ball over (21% of their possessions coming into today’s game).
Florida State took a 3-2 lead thanks to an M.J. Walker three-pointer with one second left on the shot clock. Diakite put Virginia back ahead with a spinning fade away two, but FSU scored the next five (a dunk and another made three, this one from Phil Cofer) to take an 8-5 lead at the under-16 timeout.
Guy cut the lead to two after FSU was called for a goal tend. The Hoos were unable to convert any points off of another Seminole turnover, and Mfiondu Kabengele missed two free throws after Jack Salt was called for his first foul of the game. Despite a lot of pressure from Terance Mann, Guy worked his way into the lane for the layup and the tie.
Diakite was called for a foul on Cofer, sending the redshirt senior to the line for three. He made one of three to give the Noles a slim one point lead. After coming up empty on long offensive possession, Braxton Key drew an offensive foul to give the ball back to the Hoos. Kihei Clark lost his handle, resulting in a tie-up and possession back to FSU. The defense stood tall, forcing a missed shot by Kabengele. Key worked his way inside, finishing tough at the rim to put Virginia ahead 10-9.
Guy extended Virginia’s lead to four points with the Hoos’ first three pointer of the game, but Anthony Polite cut it back to 13-11 with two free throws. Christ Koumadje drew a foul on Jay Huff, but was unable to hit either one. With one second left on the shot clock, Jerome kicked the ball out to Guy. He canned the three, putting Virginia up 16-11.
Huff shone defensively on the next possession, meeting the 7-4 Koumadje at the rim and blocking the shot. Jerome saved the ball from going out of bounds, and Hunter missed on an emphatic dunk as he was fouled. Hunter connected on both free throws, but Walker returned the favor on the other end as Huff was whistled for his second foul.
Jerome pushed the Hoos’ to five with a take to the lane, and Florida State responded by turning it over out of bounds. Hunter got aggressive and called his own number for the layup. Key would go on to score eight of Virginia’s next 10 points, connecting on two three pointers and hit two free throws as the Hoos built their lead to 32-21 with just under four minutes left in the first half.
Guy ended the half with back to back three pointers, and the defense gave the Hoos a chance to finish the first 20 minutes on a high note. Good passing found Key in the lane, who hit the layup with 12 seconds left.
Virginia finished on a 15-2 run over the final 4:24 of the first half, taking a 42-23 lead into the break. Guy led with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting (4-for-4 from three), and Key added 12. The Hoos shot 48% from the field (50% from three), and went 10-for-11 from the free throw line while only turning it over three times.
Florida State struggled with turnovers, giving up the ball eight times that lead to 11 points for Virginia. The Seminoles shot 32% from the field and went just 3-for-12 (25%) from three, but left a lot of points at the line (8-for-15). Walker led the Noles in the first half with seven points, followed by Cofer with six.
Guy opened the second half with an off-balance three late in the shot-clock, but FSU answered with one of its own. Jerome drove the baseline for an easy reverse layup to put Virginia up 21, and the Hoos got the ball right back after a traveling violation from the Noles. After Diakite missed a jumper, but Salt hauled in the rebound and found Diakite with a no-look bounce pass for a dunk.
Kabengele made FSU’s second bucket of the second half, but Hunter negated it with a pull-up jumper from the free throw line after shaking his defender on a screen. Neither team scored for just shy of five minutes, but Salt ended the drought with two made free throws. Polite connected on FSU’s fifth three of the game to make it 53-51 with 12:28 left in the game.
After what looked like a missed goaltending call on a Hunter shot, FSU looked to find a long outlet pass. Key and Clark went up for the ball, narrowly missing on a recreation of the bloody incident where Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes collided in an FSU game several seasons ago. Both were fine, and FSU got possession down 21 with under 12 to play.
Forrest made one free throw, and Key ended an 0-for-8 stretch with an elbow jumper to make it 55-32 with 8:42 left in the game. The Virginia defense forced two shotclock violations in a four minute span, but the offense struggled to get anything going. Lucky for Virginia, so did Florida State’s.
Guy found Key for a layup, and the latter added two more free throws to the score sheet to give Virginia a 59-32 advantage with 4:52 left in the game. Nichols ended a 7:48 span without a field goal for the Noles with a layup, but Key responded once again to continue adding to his career day at Virginia.
Coach Bennett brought in the subs with just under three minutes left, with Key leaving the game solo to a well-deserved standing ovation from the raucous home crowd. FSU pulled the game closer on paper by pressing the bench players, but Virginia would come away with the big win.
Next up, Virginia has their first ACC road game as the Hoos head to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College.