HARTFORD, Conn. – Vermont Catamounts had every reason to feel good about themselves.
They had played No. 4 seed Florida State for the draw in the first half and they had actually claimed the lead in second. They shot the lights from the 3-point range, they kept themselves on the glass against the much larger Seminoles, and they completely resisted pressure on any possession.
But at one time Thursday afternoon – somewhere in the second half in XL Center – the 13-seeded Catamounts began to feel a little too good about themselves.
There was a verbal exchange between Vermont forward Isaiah Moll and FSU forward Mfiondu Kabengele. There were blows in the face that forced Seminole's guardian Terance Mann to receive medical attention. And there was another collision that forced the FSU guard David Nichols to the sidelines with an apparent knee injury.
In response, there was an avalanche from Seminoles.
"They began to be chippy, and I think it is such of them in trouble," said Mann. "Because we were just fighting back, I think it took us to a new level as a team. As I said, we are a veteran game ̵
While it was a team effort, Mann and Kabengele did most of the busting.
Having combined to score nine points in the first half, the top guard and sophomore took things in the second half. Kabengele ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Mann had 19 and 8, and Seminoles pulled away for a 76-69 victory.
The victory improved the FSU's record to 28-7, which is a new school record for victories in a season, and it shot the Seminoles in a Saturday round of 32 matches against No. 12 seed Murray State, who blitzed no. 5 seeds Marquette, 83-64.