No. 12 Florida State gets another shot at No. 2 Virginia
Second-ranked Virginia broke into a good groove in postseason play by the second half of its first game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday.
No. 12 Florida State played a little longer, but came out with the same result.
That sets up the tournament semifinal game between the teams Friday night at the Spectrum in Charlotte, N.C.
"This team maintains their poise," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They have a sense about them that they never seem to panic."
Fourth-seeded Florida State (26-6) needed overtime to dismiss fifth-seeded Virginia Tech in a 65-63 outcome Thursday. Terance Mann hit the winning basket with 1.8 seconds left, while Devin Vassell's 3-pointer forced overtime.
"Our guys have been resilient," said Hamilton, whose team has won 13 of its past 14 games. "They keep finding ways to win. We hit big shots when we have to make them, we get stops that have been necessary, and that just says a lot about the character of this team."
Virginia (29-2), the top seed for the ACC tournament, used a big second half to bury North Carolina State 76-56 in Thursday's quarterfinals.
The Cavaliers have a knack for producing with pressure on. They've trailed in the second half of their past three games.
While it took time to show efficiency, the Cavaliers believe they're in the right frame of mind.
"Just trying to have a laser focus and prepare for each game like it could be our last, and I think that's an important step that we've taken as a team," Virginia guard Kyle Guy said.
The Cavaliers know they'll receive more attention in the postseason.
"This is tournament basketball," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "These are possession by possession games, and there's a physicality that's there, so we just kept plugging."
Virginia cleared a hurdle Thursday by winning in the same arena where its season ended in stunning fashion in last March's NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Maryland-Baltimore County.
"Feels good to be back right here in this press conference room where we were last time," Guy said. "And just like Coach said, ready to press on and move on from it, learn from it."
Now it's on to the matter of trying to return to the conference tournament final and repeat that championship.
One of the breakthroughs Thursday came from senior center Jack Salt, who tallied a career-high 18 points for Virginia.
The going figures to be more treacherous in the lane against Florida State, which can stack up some heavy hitters in the middle of the defense.
"I've not had a game like this at Virginia, so it was pretty awesome to get that and for the guys to find me down low," Salt said.
In the only previous meeting between Florida State and Virginia this season, the Cavaliers won 65-52 on Jan. 5 at home.
That marked the lowest point total of the season for the Seminoles.
On Thursday, 10 players scored for the Seminoles, who received more than half of their points -- 33 of them -- from reserves.
"That's who we are, we're a team that has to win by committee," Hamilton said. "We're not necessarily going into a game feeling that one particular guy has to carry us."
Virginia is in the semifinals for the fifth time in six years.
--Field Level MediaHome