The Seminoles held Georgia Tech to 28.3 percent shooting as they overcame a slow offensive performance.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
It’s not often a team blows a 22-point lead and wins.
That’s how it played out for the Florida State men’s basketball team Tuesday night at Syracuse.
No. 24 FSU (17-5, 5-4 in ACC) had a 36-14 lead — the Seminoles’ largest of ACC play — just over 14 minutes into the game.
It was reduced to as little as one point in the second half, but never turned into a deficit as the Seminoles held off the advances of the Orange (16-7, 7-3 in ACC) to come away with an 80-62 win inside the rowdy road environment of the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse’s iconic zone defense dares opposing teams to beat them from the perimeter.
That’s exactly what FSU did early and often, hitting six of its first seven threes and finishing 50 percent from outside the arc.
Senior guard Terance Mann matched his season high with 22 points, making eight of his nine shots and both of his threes.
M.J. Walker added three threes and Mfiondu Kabengele was a perfect four of four from the perimeter as part of his 18-point, eight-rebound performance.
Tyus Battle led the Orange with 23 points.
It’s the Seminoles fourth straight win and their first win at the Carrier Dome since March 12, 1997.
With the victory, the Seminoles are above .500 in the ACC for the first time this season.
In many ways, the Syracuse game mirrored FSU’s loss at Boston College earlier this season.
Against the Eagles, FSU built up a 15-point lead late in the first half before BC ended the half on a run.
BC came out hot in the second half — much like the Orange did — and the Seminoles caved, losing by five points in a game that didn’t feel nearly that close.
SU also made its run to start the second half. A 14-7 run cut the FSU lead to one point.
The Orange cut the FSU lead to one score on three occasions, but never took the lead.
Each time, FSU came up with a response at the offensive end or another stop at the defensive end.
After a closely-contested few minutes, a 12-0 FSU run finally gave the Seminoles the separation they needed.
It was a demonstration of the lesson FSU learned from its earlier ACC slate as it rose to the occasion when pushed to the limit this time against a better Syracuse team and in a more hostile road environment.
With the win, FSU improves to 2-3 in ACC road games this season, winning back-to-back ACC games away from home for the first time since 2016.
Live by the assist, die by the turnover
Productive passing is a major way to create good shot opportunities against a zone defense like Syracuse’s.
FSU was up to that task Tuesday as it assisted on 25 of its 30 made baskets (83.3 percent) over the entire game.
25 assists is the most by an FSU team since the Seminoles had 32 in their 2016 win over Nicholls State.
Trent Forrest led the charge with a season-high 10 assists and David Nichols added five.
While FSU racked up the assists, it also turned the ball over too much.
The Seminoles committed 21 turnovers — four more than in any ACC game this season — and Syracuse turned that into 18 points.
Countering that, though, was FSU forcing 18 turnovers of its own.
With many of these coming in live-ball situations, it allowed FSU to get out in transition and rack up 29 fastbreak points.
FSU has a tough test at home this weekend against a No. 16 Louisville team (17-6, 8-2) that has won seven of its last eight games as it continues to exceed expectations this season.
The Seminoles and Cardinals face off Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
No. 24 Florida State vs. No. 16 Louisville
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Where: Tucker Civic Center
TV/Radio: ESPN2/103.1 FM