TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) MJ Walker scored 17 points and No. 16 Florida State built a big lead in the first half, beating No. 7 Virginia 81-60 on Monday night in a matchup between the top two teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. .
RaiQuan Gray had 15 points as the Seminoles (12-3, 8-2) gave 2019 national champion Virginia her worst ACC loss in four years. Walker made five of Florida State’s 13 3-pointers this season on 24 attempts (54%).
“We can take on anyone in the country when we are locked in and focused on our opponent and the game plan and execute it,” Gray said. “We have to keep that focus for the rest of the year.”
Gray scored in double figures for the seventh straight game. Florida State has won 24 consecutive ACC home games since their win over Clemson on January 22, 2019.
Trey Murphy III had 13 points and Kihei Clark added 12 in the second half for Virginia (15-4, 11-2), who had won four in a row.
Florida State has held four of the last five meetings at home. But this one was surprisingly unbalanced; it marked the Cavaliers’ ACC’s biggest loss since they fell 65-41 in North Carolina on February 18, 2017.
The Seminoles fired a robust 29 of 58 (50%) from the ground against one of the nation’s tightest defensive programs.
“If you want to have a chance to beat a team of this caliber, or that is playing at this level in this scenario, sometimes you can’t be really good on defense,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You have to be good all the time in the areas that you have control over. You can’t control if they can make a great shot or an acrobatic play, but we can control if our defense is well prepared, if we are active with the ball, if we are in position and we do not make any mistakes in judgment. ”
Bennett fell to 9-10 against Florida State.
Florida state jumped on the Cavaliers early. Gray and Walker each had nine points as the Seminoles went 6 of 10 from 3-point range en route to an impressive 45-25 lead at halftime.
Murphy’s 3-pointer closed the deficit to 48-41 with 14:24 to play, but the Cavaliers couldn’t cut the lead further.
The depth of the state of Florida was again an important factor. Balsa Koprivica (nine points), Anthony Polite (eight), Scottie Barnes (seven) and Sardaar Calhoun (six) helped the Seminoles bench beat Virginia reserves 37-20.
“We received a tremendous amount of energy from everyone who came to the game,” said coach Leonard Hamilton. “I thought that allowed us to play at a very, very high level throughout the game.”
THE GREAT MAN RETURNS
Koprivica, a second-year center, returned after spraining his ankle before the game against Wake Forest. He had three rebounds and hit his first triple of the season. That shot, as well as an 18-foot shot, were among Florida State’s great baskets in the second half.
Koprivica played the rim guard role well, as Clark did most of his damage early in the second half when Koprivica was on the bench. Koprivica also blocked one of Clark’s shots in the second half.
Virginia was slow at first with eight turnovers in the first half and couldn’t match Florida State’s energy. The Cavaliers had held the Seminoles below 70 points in the previous 19 meetings.
Florida State showed its depth and defense, securing its biggest win of the season with the kind of shooting efficiency that Virginia typically displays. Eight players sank a 3 for the Seminoles. The only other team in the past 25 seasons to do that in a win over a top-10 team was Auburn in the 2019 NCAA regional semifinals against North Carolina, according to STATS.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE SURVEY
Virginia probably won’t fall too far if she recovers Saturday at Duke. Florida State proved he is worthy of continuing his rise, especially if he can contribute to his success against Virginia Tech this weekend.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.
Florida State hosts No. 18 Virginia Tech on Saturday.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.