TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Terrance Mann and Phil Cofer helped No. 9 Florida State keep its impressive start to the season going and finish its nonconference schedule nearly perfect.
Mann scored a season-high 22 points, Cofer added 14 and the Seminoles beat Winthrop 87-76 Tuesday for their seventh straight victory. Florida State improved to 12-1 for the fourth time in school history.
“I’m glad that we got the non-conference part of the schedule out of the way,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “The most positive thing I can say is that we can feel good about the fact that we’re 12-1 and I really believe we have still a lot of upside with this team.”
Mann shot 10 of 11 from the floor, scoring 14 second-half points and grabbing seven rebounds. Cofer made four of his five shots in the first half but missed all three in the second.
The Seminoles’ only blemish so far while matching its best start was a six-point loss to Villanova on Nov. 25. Florida State even did it while playing 10 games without Cofer, the leading scorer from last season’s Elite Eight team, after the senior forward missed nearly seven weeks with a foot injury.
Florida State has long been known as an athletic and deep team. The Seminoles had 39 points from its reserves against Winthrop, and regularly receive significant contributions from their sixth through 11th players. And now with Cofer back from injury, they are arguably one of the deepest teams in college basketball.
“Just to see shots falling for him after what he’s been through has been key for us,” Mann said. “His energy is back on the defensive end, the vocal energy, and that’s just what we needed.”
Florida State was 8 for 16 on 3-pointers in the first half en route to taking a 52-36 lead. Winthrop came into the game as the No. 2 team in the nation in 3-point shots made per game but was just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 26.1 percent (6 of 23).
The Seminoles held a 56-38 lead early in the second half but Winthrop pulled to 63-61 with 11:50 left. Florida State, however, never lost the lead and stayed in control.
“They’re Noah’s Ark,” Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said. “They got two of everything. They got NBA prospects. They’re long, athletic, physical. They play very team-oriented basketball.”
The Seminoles shot 46.9 percent (30 of 64) from the floor.
Adam Pickett scored 19 points and Charles Falden added a season-high 15 points for Winthrop (8-5), whose four-game winning streak ended. The Eagles made 49.2 percent (29 of 59) shots from the floor.
Winthrop played without its top player, Nych Smith, and Bjorn Broman was limited to 14 minutes because of injury. Smith, a senior guard, is averaging a team-high 16 points this season was out with an ankle injury.
“We just didn’t want to risk it,” Kelsey said.
Florida State limited Winthrop to just six 3-pointers, less than half of the Eagles’ per-game average. Anthony Polite scored eight points but had three critical steals, contributing to the Seminoles’ season-high 13 steals.
“He gave us a lot of energy on the defensive end,” Mann said. “And mean and aggressive offensively, not thinking too much and playing his game.”
Florida State also had a season-high eight blocks, including four by Mfiondu Kabengele.
Florida State returned after a nine-day layoff and impressed with a 52-point first half. But the Seminoles’ best chance to move up will come in the ACC opener on Saturday against No. 4 Virginia.
Winthrop: The Eagles got 40 points on layups, at times driving to the basket with ease. Winthrop, however, was hurt by 21 turnovers
Florida State: The Seminoles were dominant for stretches but nearly squandered an 18-point lead. But they still secured their 32nd straight non-conference victory at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Winthrop: Begins its Big South schedule at UNC Asheville on Saturday.
Florida State: Opens Atlantic Coast Conference play at Virginia on Saturday.
Source: Fox Sports