No. 10 Florida State fends off No. 12 Louisville
Florida State's Terance Mann scored 15 points in the Seminoles' victory over the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Even though No. 10 Florida State has one of the deeper benches in college basketball, it was the starters who came up big for the Seminoles on Saturday.
In the final game of a run against six straight ranked teams, four of FSU's starting five scored in double figures as it was able to hold off No. 12 Louisville 73-68.
The win keeps Florida State (18-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) tied atop the conference and gave it five wins during this ranked gantlet.
"It is very fun because no one thought we would be in this situation," said Dwayne Bacon, who scored 16 points. "No one thought we would be in the top 10 or go 5-1 against six ranked teams. Everyone doubted us but we have proved that we can do much more."
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton went with his usual plan of having 12 players see action, but this was the first time he has had four starters log 28 or more minutes. Hamilton said he went with his starters more because they had more experience playing against Louisville's matchup zone.
Jonathan Isaac had 16 points and 10 rebounds, becoming the FSU freshman to have three consecutive double-doubles since Corey Lewis in 1994-95. Terance Mann added 15 points and Michael Ojo 10.
Florida State started the game by scoring the first 14 points but Louisville slowly worked its way back. It got within one point twice in the second half, including 69-68 with 2:04 remaining before the Seminoles scored the final four points, all at the line.
Both teams shot under 40 percent of the game. The Cardinals, who were 25 of 65 (38.5 percent), missed 10 of their final 12 shots from the field while the Seminoles, who shot a season-low 36.7 percent (22 of 60) went the final 3:50 without a field goal.
"I'd rather have a game like that today. We really take pride in our defense. When you get a stop it means so much on the other end," Isaac said.
Tony Hicks led Louisville (16-4, 4-3) with 16 points while Mangok Mathiang added 13 and Deng Adel 12. The Cardinals were playing their second game in 40 hours after beating Clemson on Thursday night.
"We fought it the whole way and gave ourselves in a chance to win it. But we made a couple of mistakes at the end," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
Louisville: Donovan Mitchell, who came in averaging 18.8 points and 4.5 rebounds over the past six games, had a rough day. The sophomore guard was in foul trouble for most of the game and was held to six points, all of them coming in the second half. Pitino said he didn't want to take Mitchell out but felt that he was starting to count his misses and that it was starting to affect his defense.
Florida State: The fact that the Seminoles could win a game with their bench scoring only 11 points and shooting under 40 percent from the field has to be the most encouraging thing of all.
HOT, THEN COLD
Florida State started the game by making six of its first seven shots from the field and then went 6 of 28 the remainder of the first half. Louisville got within three points twice in the final 2 minutes of the first half but the Seminoles went on a 5-2 to close the half to lead 41-35.
"That didn't bother me as much. That was more their brilliance than us. Very few teams can hold that type of win against a good team," Pitino said of Florida State's early run.
RANKED GANTLET IN PERSPECTIVE
Florida State's 5-1 record in facing six straight Top 25 teams by far is the best that any ACC team has done when facing that type of run. Maryland was 0-6 in 1992-93 and North Carolina State was 1-5 in 1979-80.
Pitino still was not pleased about playing a road game without much time to prepare. The Cardinals had a 9 p.m. game against Clemson on Thursday, which they won 92-60, before facing Florida State. The lack of preparation time is one reason why Pitino went with more matchup zone than man.
"I wish we had a lot more time to prepare but who do you get in this league that is easy? Every team in this league has to face that type of turnaround at one time or another," Pitino said.
Louisville goes to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Cardinals defeated the Panthers 85-80 on Jan. 11.
Florida State plays its next three games on the road, beginning Wednesday against Georgia Tech.