Kabengele leads Florida State past North Florida 95-81

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Mfiondu Kabengele is no ordinary reserve.

He packs quite a punch for No. 11 Florida State.

Kabengele scored a career-high 24 points, helping the Seminoles pull away for a 95-81 win against North Florida on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound sophomore made 7 of 12 shots from the floor, 10 of 10 free throws and pulled down seven rebounds as Florida State (10-1) earned its fifth straight victory.

“A beast,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. “And he is from the old school. He ain’t from the new school. And praise God he ain’t listening to anybody and praise God he doesn’t get caught up in all that minutiae on Twitter and all that. I told him after the game, ‘If you stay this way, you are going to make as much as you ever want to make. If you stay and do what you do.'”

Kabengele is averaging 11.2 points per game. He has scored in double figures in seven of Florida State’s 11 games.

“I’m not the type of person that overtly overtalents somebody,” Kabengele said. “I have to work for everything I have. All of my success comes from my hard work. So I have to feed that and continue to work on my game.”

Led by Kabengele, Florida State had five players score in double figures. Terance Mann had 17 points, including several alley-oop dunks, as the Seminoles dominated inside. They finished with 64 points in the paint.

J.T. Escobar, who played at Maclay School and Florida A&M High in Tallahassee, had 27 points for North Florida (5-8). He went 6 for 6 from 3-point range.

“I was happy for J.T. Escobar,” Driscoll said. “Played well in front of his hometown. That was cool.”

Florida State led 46-39 at the break and opened the second half with a 12-2 run. The Seminoles led by as many as 24 points.

Trent Forrest had 10 points and seven assists for Florida State, which shot 50.6 percent (40 for 79) from the floor, but went just 3 for 23 from beyond the arc.

North Florida shot 50 percent (27 of 54).

The Seminoles also opened the 2017-18 season at 10-1. They went 11-1 in nonconference play last season.


Florida State could make an argument that it is playing like a top-10 team, especially with a win over Saint Louis on Saturday.


Senior forward Phil Cofer made his season debut for Florida State on Monday, playing five scoreless minutes in a win over Southeast Missouri. But Cofer, who was sidelined by a preseason foot injury, did not dress against North Florida.

“Phil’s injury has healed,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It just takes you a while for you to get back in the rhythm that is necessary for him to get to the level that he has been. We are just moving cautiously. He probably could have played tonight. But I’m looking at what’s best for him, what’s best for us.”


North Florida is 2-54 against Power 5 schools under Driscoll.

The Ospreys, who have already traveled more than 9,000 miles in just two months, will have another chance when they face Auburn later in December.


North Florida: Escobar was electric, but the Ospreys had 19 turnovers and struggled to defend Florida State’s guards.

Florida State: The Seminoles had 10 players make at least one basket and hit the 90-point mark for the second time this season.


North Florida plays at Auburn on Dec. 29.

Florida State plays Saint Louis on Saturday.