LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — No. 14 Florida State had to work overtime, but they stayed perfect on the early season. A three-point field goal by Mfiondu Kabengele with two seconds remaining in overtime bounced off the front of the rim and fell through to give FSU a 79-76 victory over No. 19 LSU on Friday evening in the AdvoCare Invitational Semifinals from HP Fieldhouse at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
The Seminoles are now 5-0 to open the season, for the second consecutive season, and will play for the AdvoCare Invitational Championship on Sunday against Villanova at 1 p.m. That game will be shown on ESPN. The Wildcats advanced by defeating Oklahoma State, 77-58, earlier on Friday. On the season, Villanova is 4-2.
Things didn’t look good for the Seminoles against the Tigers as they trailed by nine points with just 3:05 remaining in regulation, but they went on a 12-3 run over the remainder of the second half to force overtime. Kabengele also hit a crucial three-pointer in that stretch. FSU tied it on a Trent Forrest lay-up with two seconds remaining to help force overtime.
FSU jumped out to an early 5-point lead in overtime thanks to a lay-up by Kabengele and a three-pointer from M.J. Walker, but the Tigers would tie it with 11 seconds remaining as Tremont Waters made three free throws, after being fouled by Anthony Polite in the act of shooting. Forrest would bring the ball up the court after getting the inbounds with 11 seconds left before finding Kabengele stationed in the corner in front of FSU’s bench. A clean pass led to a good look and the ball found the bottom of the net. LSU was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer.
“It felt good off my wrist. I am glad it bounced. I got the lucky roll,” Kabengele said after the game. “The coaches told me to go into the corner because there was space there. Trent found me and I let it fly.”
Head coach Leonard Hamilton had a little fun with that situation to open his postgame press conference.
“To answer your question, of course we drew up that last play for Mfiondu to hit a jump shot deep in the corner,” Hamilton said. “That is the shot we wanted all along.”
While FSU had to come back from a deep deficit late, it was very much a back-and-forth affair, especially over the first 30 minutes. The scored was tied 12 times on the evening and the lead changed 11 times.
“I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of resilience,” Hamilton added.
FSU trailed by as many as six in the first half but went to the locker room with a 30-29 lead over the Tigers after the first 20 minutes. Walker led the Seminoles with 13 points in the opening half, which was a season-high for him in a game to that point in time. As a team, FSU started 3-for-15 (20%) and finished the opening half just 11-for-34 (32.4%) from the floor.
Walker finished with a team-leading 21 points, while Kabengele added 15 points off the bench and Forrest threw in 10 points along with seven boards, as well as a team-leading five assists and four steals. Terance Mann was just shy of double figures with nine points, due in part to foul trouble, but he did have a team-leading 12 rebounds and his effort across his 36 minutes of action set a tone for the game.
LSU was led Skylar Mays, who finished with 19 points, to lead four in double figures.
The Tigers fall to 5-1 on the season after suffering their first loss. They will face the Cowboys (3-2) in the consolation third place game, which will also be played on Sunday (4 p.m., ESPN2).
Statistical rundown: On the evening, FSU shot 29-for-76 (38.2%) from the field and 9-for-26 (34.6%) from the perimeter. They were 12-for-17 (70.6%) from the free throw line. The Tigers were much better from the field going 27-for-52 (51.9%), including 11-for-26 (42.3%) from deep. They were 11-for-13 (84.6%) from the line.
FSU scored 22 points off of 18 LSU turnovers. FSU stole it away 11 times. FSU had 15 assists and committed just 12 turnovers on the evening, which turned into 14 points for LSU.
The Seminoles outscored the Tigers 36-26 in the paint and had a 43-30 rebounding advantage, including 22 offensive boards for FSU.
FSU’s depth shined through as well, with the bench scoring 31 points against the Tigers. Kabengele led the bench group with 15 points.
Hamilton grades his ‘Noles in victory, off short rest: Head coach Leonard Hamilton spoke on Thursday evening, after his team wrapped an 81-63 victory over UAB at just before midnight, about being interested in how his team would handle the test of a high-caliber team such as LSU on short rest. He was asked the grade he would give his roster after Friday’s gutsy performance.
“On the defensive end when a team shoots 51 percent, you can’t give yourself a high grade. On the offensive end, I think we did not find our rhythm but we made plays because our guys are somewhat talented. They took us right down to the wire and we feel like we have plenty of room for improvement.”
Hamilton, players speak on the big victory
Forward Mfiondu Kabengele on his game-winning shot and more
Guard M.J. Walker on the comeback against LSU, moving on to face Villanova
Old Spice feeling at AdvoCare Invitation: FSU is 5-0 all-time in this tournament. They won the 2009 version, which was known as the Old Spice Classic.
Ranked victory: LSU is the first ranked team that FSU has faced this season. The Seminoles now have 45 victories over ranked teams in their 17 seasons under head coach Leonard Hamilton.
Series history: FSU evened up the series with LSU at 3-3 all-time. It was FSU’s first win over LSU since 1967.
SEC, SEC, SEC: FSU’s seniors are 7-0 against teams from the Southeastern Conference dating back to the 2014-15 season. Prior to today’s victory over LSU, FSU had five wins against Florida as well as a win against Mississippi State during that time.
Defending champs: FSU has eight wins all-time against the defending NCAA Champions in the season after the opposing team won it all. Villanova, FSU’s opponent on Sunday, is the most recent NCAA Champions.
“A championship team,” M.J. Walker said in looking forward to Villanova. “We want what they got. They won last year. It is our time and our opportunity right here to show what we are made of.”