FSU Shows Strength, Poise as Noles March Past Vermont in First Round of NCAA Tournament, 76-69

By  //  March 22, 2019

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Noles set program record for most wins in a season

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida State vs. Vermont: First-round NCAA tournament extended highlights (Video by NCAA)

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT– The No.4 seeded Florida State Seminoles were tied 27-27 at the half but outscored the sharpshooting and upset mined No. 13 seeded Vermont Catamounts, 49-42, in the final 20 minutes to advance to round two of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Hartford, Connecticut.

The 76-69 win was the Seminoles 28th win of the season which are the most in the history of Florida State basketball, topping the 27-6 record of the 1971-72 team, which made it to the national championship game.

Mfiondu Kabengele’s double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds helped FSU combat the three-point shooting Vermont used to keep pace with the Seminoles.

Senior guard Terance Mann had just two points in the first half but dropped 17 in the second half to help the Seminoles finish on top.

The Seminoles have now won five consecutive first-round games and will meet No. 12 Murray State on Saturday.

The Racers pulled off the typical 5-12 upset the NCAA Tournament is known for producing when they beat fifth-seeded Marquette later in the day.

Senior guard Terance Mann had just two points in the first half but dropped 17 in the second half to help the Seminoles finish on top. (Image by Fox Sports)

Despite shooting just 35.9 from 3-point range during the regular season, the Catamounts hit half of their 32 three-point attempts in the contest.

They made just 10 baskets in the first half but seven of them were from beyond the arc.

Vermont outrebounded Florida State in the first half (20-18) but was kept from underneath the basket in the second as the Seminoles collected eight more boards in the final 20-minutes (21-13).

The Catamounts came into the game with a small line-up as no starter stood over 6-foot-6 and it would cost them in the second half. Despite the hot shooting from outside, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton’s team was deeper, bigger and more physical by the time the clock showed four zeroes.

FSU’s bench outscored Vermont 30-7, beat them up inside as the Noles finished with a 30-14 advantage in the paint, including 13-of-20 coming by way of dunks and layups.

FSU forced a dozen more turnovers (17-5) and outscored Vermont by 24 points, 31-7, from the charity stripe.

The Seminoles 37 free-throw attempts were a season high, and their nearly 84 percent conversion rate was nine percentage points above their season average.

Trailing 16-7 following a high energy start usually seen from lower seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament, Florida State shut the door on Vermont and proceeded with a 14-0 run that saw the Noles take a 21-16 lead.

The Seminoles Raiquon Gray drives the lane for two. (Image by War Chant)

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Florida State led by 12 with 1:10 to play but Vermont refused to go quietly as they outscored the Noles  11-6 over the final 70 seconds but it wasn’t enough as FSU closed out the Catamounts for the 76-69 win.

Florida State senior forward Paul Cofer did not play in the game after he experienced swelling in his foot following the ACC Tournament.

The news went from bad to horrible for Cofer following the contest.

After the Noles win, Cofer was notified that his father, former Detroit Lions linebacker Mike Cofer, had passed away after a long battle with an illness.

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