Box Score: FSU 76, Vermont 69
HARTFORD, Conn. – Florida State was not as deep and long and athletic as usual on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior forward Phil Cofer missed the game with a foot injury, and senior guard P.J. Savoy was very late for a half of an undisclosed reason.
It didn't matter.
If they have done to opponents all season, the No. 4 seed seminoles were down to a Vermont squad with relentless defensive pressure and pulled away for 76-69 victory. The Seminoles trailed for most of the first half and even for the second, but they were too much for the 13th-seeded catamounts down the stretch.
Vermont's last lead came to 45-44 with 1
With the victory, FSU improves to 28-7 and advances to Saturday's second round game against the winner of Thursday's second game between Murray State and Marquette.
Florida State was led offensively by sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele and senior guard Terance Mann. Kabengele scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Mann finished with 19 and 8.
Kabengele might have delivered the game in the final minutes when he got the ball in the post and was surrounded by three Vermont defenders. The seminoles were leading by only six points at the time, and Kabengele was able to knife through the defense and slam down to push the advantage to eight.
The game was tied at halftime, 27-27, despite a brilliant shooting performance early by the catamounts. They hit 7 of their first 10 3-pointers and 7 of 13 for the half. Vermont's star forward, Anthony Lamb, lived up to the billing. He led the Catamounts (27-7) with 16 points and nine rebounds.