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Virginia falls to Florida State in ACC tournament semifinals, 69-59

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Hoos struggled on both sides of the ball as the Seminoles got hot.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Florida State vs Virginia Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, it’s just not your night. Such was the case for the top-seeded Cavaliers in Friday night’s ACC tournament semifinals as Florida State handed Virginia it’s third loss of the season, 69-59. The Hoos will now await their fate from the selection committee regarding seed and region for the NCAA tournament.

The Seminoles shot well, going 56% from the field and 38% from three. David Nichols led the Noles with 14 points as three other players reached double-digit scoring.

For the second straight game, Ty Jerome struggled from the field, going 4-for-13 (2-for-9 from three) for 10 points. De’Andre Hunter led with 13 points, followed by Kyle Guy with 11, but Guy didn’t score in the second half. Kihei Clark finished with nine, followed by Jack Salt with eight.

“They were just the tougher team tonight,” Jerome said of the lengthy Florida State squad. Virginia shot 42% from the field, but just 5-for-24 (21%) from three. There were only eight turnovers in the game for Virginia, and the Hoos got 19 points off of 13 FSU turnovers.

Cofer opened scoring with a three from a couple steps beyond the three point arc, but Hunter answered with a reverse layup after a baseline drive to make it 3-2. Christ Koumadje, who stands at 7-4, was able to get an alley-oop over Jack Salt to put the Seminoles back up by three. After empty trips with misses from three from Clark and Jerome, a pull up jumper from Hunter closed the Hoos within one again.

Koumadje turned it over under the basket, and Salt’s hot scoring picked up where he left off with a tough layup through contact to give Virginia its first lead of the game. Another bucket from Koumadje put the Seminoles up 7-6 with 16:24 left in the first half. Guy missed a tough shot in the lane, but Key got possession back for the Hoos just before the media timeout by drawing a charge on Trent Forrest.

Key tipped in a miss from Hunter, giving Virginia a one-point edge, but a David Nichols jumper gave Florida State a 9-8 lead. Cofer’s second three of the first half pushed the Seminoles’ lead to four, and Virginia came up empty on another trip on the offensive end. A free throw from Koumadje made it 13-8 FSU.

Nothing was going Virginia’s way as Diakite missed a dunk and the Hoos turned it over on their next possession, making the scoring drought 2:55 of game time. Key ended the drought with another tip-in pulling the Hoos back within three at 13:10 with 11:58 to play.

Kabengele smoked past Huff for an easy dunk, returning FSU’s lead to five. An athletic move for a dunk and a three from Forrest pushed the Seminoles’ lead to 20-10 with 10:15 to play in the first half, forcing Tony Bennett to call a timeout.

After a prayer to avoid the shot clock that Guy rebounded to keep the play alive, Hunter mercifully hit a two to end another 2:13 scoring drought. FSU turned the ball over under the basket, and Guy somehow found Salt for another basket plus the foul. He couldn’t get the free throw to fall, but the Hoos were back within six at 20-14 after two straight buckets.

Both teams traded misses from three, and Clark saw an opening and drove to pull Virginia back within four at 20-16. Strong defense from Jerome on Mann forced a bad shot, and Salt’s strong box out drew a foul on Kabengele to give the Hoos the ball back with 7:19 to play.

Hunter couldn’t get a look to fall, and MJ Walker connected on two free throws to give FSU a 22-16 lead. Guy finally got a three to fall for Virginia after the Hoos missed their first eight attempts, but Walker responded with one of his own to keep Virginia’s deficit at six. Jerome’s floater hit front iron, and Cofer pushed FSU’s lead back to eight with a tough jumper over Key.

Koumadje smacked Guy’s two-point attempt to the corner and grabbed possession, and the FSU big man drew a foul on Hunter to go to the line for a one-and-one. He made both, giving the Seminoles a 29-19 lead with 4:31 left in the first half. Guy was fouled on a three attempt, and made all three to cut the deficit to seven.

Outstanding defense from Clark led to a miss from the Seminoles, and a midrange jumper from Guy closed the gap to 29-24. Another defensive stance led to a steal from Key and a drawn foul from Clark in transition. Clark made both free throws to continue Virginia’s 7-0 run and bring the Hoos back within a three.

Nichols made two free throws to make it 31-26 with 2:22 left in the half, and Guy connected on his second three of the half to pull the Hoos back within two. Walker hit another tough jumper, but Salt somehow got a lefty jump-stop hook to go to make it 33-31. Koumadje pushed the lead to four with another alley-oop, and Hunter couldn’t get a three to go in the corner.

Florida State came up empty on the final possession of the half, sending the two squads into the break with FSU leading 35-31. The Seminoles shot 55% from the field and 40% from three in the first half. Koumadje led with nine points, followed by Cofer with eight, and Walker with seven.

Virginia struggled from three, going 2-for-11 (18%) in the first half, with Guy hitting both threes. From the field, Virginia connected on 43% of their shots. Guy led the Hoos with 11 points in the first half, followed by Hunter and Salt with six each. Despite FSU’s length, Virginia only turned it over three times in the first half.

Virginia opened the second half with Salt drawing Koumadje’s second foul of the game, and Salt made them both to pull the Hoos within two. Walker got a two to go, and Hunter’s floater went off the front of the rim. Cofer got a three to go with six seconds left on the shot clock to extend FSU’s lead to 40-33 with 17:31 remaining.

Diakite caught the ball in the low post, faked the shot, and got the layup to go. Koumadje was called for the foul on the play — his third — and Diakite got the free throw to go to pull back within four. Jerome forced a turnover on FSU’s next possession, and Guy found Clark for three in the corner. Hunter answered a two from Forrest to pull Virginia within one at 42-41 with just under 16 minutes left in the game.

Hunter put the Hoos on top 43-42 with a tough take through contact, putting Virginia in front for the first time since the 15:18 mark of the first half. Nichols seesawed the momentum back in FSU’s favor with a bucket, but Clark answered with a jumper of his own. Kabengele corralled an offensive rebound on a miss from Cofer for a put-back, and then hit a three to give the Seminoles a 49-45 lead.

Jerome canned his first bucket of the day — a three-pointer — with just over 12 minutes to play after he shook Walker at the top of the arc. Nichols hit another tough fadeaway for two after a Koumadje offensive rebound kept the Seminoles’ possession alive, giving FSU a three-point lead. Key was called for a travel on Virginia’s next possession, giving the Noles a chance to extend their lead once again.

Nichols easily got to the hoop to put the Seminoles up by five, but Hunter cut it to 53-49 with one free throw make at the line. Back-to-back makes from Nichols and RaiQuan Gray put FSU up by eight once again. Two free throws from Forrest gave the Seminoles a nine point lead with 8:12 to play, and the Hoos were in the danger zone.

Key’s three attempt rimmed out, and Nichols again hit a tough shot, putting FSU up 60-49. Jerome missed in the lane, and Gray pushed FSU’s lead to 13. Jerome and Hunter ended a brutal drought for the Hoos, cutting the lead to nine with just over three minutes remaining. Forrest’s two was answered with a three from Guy, but time was dwindling for the Cavaliers.

Jerome made it a seven point game with 1:11 to play, and fouled Cofer on the inbounds play. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Jerome missed the three long. Virginia caught a break as Cofer was called for a foul underneath. That sent Huff to the line for free throws, making one to close the gap to six.

Virginia had a couple looks at cutting it further, but Kabengele made two at the line to make it an eight-point game with 27.5 seconds left. A miss from the Hoos gave FSU a runout for a dunk, finishing the game and Virginia’s ACC tournament title hopes.