Never count out the Seminoles at home.
No. 24 Florida State (18-5, 6-4 ACC) outlasted No. 17 Louisville (17-7, 8-3 ACC) 80-75 in an overtime battle of ranked teams in front of a Tucker Civic Center crowd of 11,675 Saturday afternoon.
“Our kids just found a way to win,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
“They’re realizing that defense is important. There’s no question that our defense won the game for us.”
FSU won its fifth consecutive game and improved to 11-1 at home. Louisville had won seven of its last eight games and boasted a 4-1 road record in ACC play.
FSU erased a 10-point second-half deficit to force overtime. Tied at 65 at the end of regulation, the Seminoles didn’t waste time in overtime.
They scored the first eight points of the period to surge in front, 73-65. It was their first advantage since 23-22 in the first half.
Louisville knocked down a couple threes to cut the lead to 75-72 with 45 seconds remaining.
FSU guard Terance Mann made one of his two free throws to extend the lead to four. Louisville guard Christen Cunningham converted a three-point play with 32 seconds remaining on the other end of the court to cut the lead 76-75.
FSU guard Trent Forrest knocked down both free throws after being fouled to push the lead to three.
Louisville guard Ryan McMahon had a chance to tie the game with a three, but it bounced off the rim and into the hands of FSU guard M.J. Walker.
Walker was immediately fouled, but knocked down both free throws to give the Seminoles a five-point lead with four seconds remaining.
FSU knocked down 11 of its 12 free throw attempts in overtime to secure the victory.
“Guys everyday practice free throws and for guys to make free throws like that down the stretch, especially in the clutch, is very rewarding,” FSU forward Mfiondu Kabengele said.
“All the hard work in practice really paid off.”
This is the second time that FSU has won five straight ACC games under Leonard Hamilton. The other was a seven-game winning streak in the 2011-2012 season.
“It means a lot,” Mann said.
“It definitely means a lot to us. Coming from where we came from. We were 1-4 at one point. So just being able to stick together and just reset everything and get back to what we do is clutch.”
FSU chips away in the second half
Neither team was able to separate for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Cardinals broke through thanks to McMahon.
McMahon knocked down three straight three-pointers to push the Cardinals out to a 52-42 lead with 10:07 left in the game. All nine points he scored came in the second half.
But the Seminoles continued to fight.
FSU cut the Louisville lead to just 60-59 with 2:38 left in the game thanks to a three by Mann.
“The coaching staff set a good gameplan,” Kabenegle said.
“We practice situations like this in practice. Either down 10, down seven, or down three and we just executed what we did in practice. Guys responded and made plays such as Trent, Terance. Made good free throws. Created turnovers. That’s how how we got back into the game.”
The Cardinals fired right back with a three of their own by center Malik Williams to push the lead back to four.
FSU cut the lead to two on a dunk by forward Mfiondu Kabengele. The Seminoles immediately tied the game at 63 with with 1:11 left after FSU guard M.J Walker picked guard Christen Cunningham’s pocket and got the easy layup.
The teams traded free throws and a basket before Louisville started their final possession of the second half with 29.5 seconds left with the game tied at 65.
Louisville forward Jordan Nwora missed a three and FSU forward Phil Cofer’s last-second heave rimmed out to send the game to overtime.
“Give Florida State a lot of credit for their pressure, their relentlessness on the glass that we handled up until maybe the last six, seven minutes of the game and then overtime,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said.
“We kept them out of the lane for the most part. The best we could. But the ability to keep them off the glass and the ability to handle their pressure were our undoing. Tough to overcome. We never quit. Wish we had done a better job down the stretch.”
Kabengele, Mann, and Forrest lead the way
Kabengele continues to be the Seminoles’ most important player despite coming off the bench. Kabengele had 22 points and seven rebounds against the Cardinals in 36 minutes. He made seven of his 12 shots in the game. This is his 16th game in double figures this season.
Mann followed up his 22-point performance against Syracuse with 20 points against Louisville. He did most of his damage at the free throw line making nine of his 11 attempts. He also added four rebounds.
Forrest did it all once again for the Seminoles. He had 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and five steals.
Teams go streaking in first half
The first half saw FSU and Louisville trading blows back and forth with both teams going on extended runs.
The Cardinals started the game on a 12-3 run before the Seminoles went on an 18-5 run. Louisville responded with a 14-4 run to end the half with a 31-25 lead.
Kabengele was one of the few bright spots in the first half for FSU.
He came off the bench but played 11 minutes. He had nine points and made four of his five shots.
The rest of the Seminoles made just five of their 22 attempts.
37.7: FSU struggled to put the ball through the basket making just 37.7 percent of their shots from the field. Louisville entered the game as one of the best defensive teams in the country and the intensity that the Cardinals played with on the defensive end of the court caused some issues for the Seminoles.
23: FSU’s defense caused quite a few issues for the Cardinals as well. The Seminoles forced 23 turnovers, including 11 steals. The Seminoles turned the ball over just eight times in comparison and scored 32 points off Louisville turnovers.
FSU will host Wake Forest Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Tucker Civic Center.