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Seminoles come back to best Cavaliers

For the first time since Jan. 6 in a 74-50 win against Brown, the Virginia men’s basketball team won the first half against Florida State yesterday. For the first time since a Nov. 28 loss against Syracuse, however, the Cavaliers lost the second half by a double-digit margin, as the slumping squad turned a two-point halftime lead into a 68-57 defeat to the No. 25 Seminoles in Tallahassee for Virginia’s eighth straight loss.

The Cavaliers (7-13, 1-8 ACC) took a 41-40 lead following a three-point jumper by Mike Scott with 8:26 remaining in regulation. This would be the last deficit the Seminoles (19-5, 6-3 ACC) would face, however, as they went on a 14-4 run to take a nine-point lead. A deep three by Calvin Baker cut the margin to six with barely three minutes remaining, but Florida State freshman center Solomon Alabi’s dunk on the ensuing possession took the air out of any would-be Virginia surge.

Though Virginia got off to another sluggish start offensively, shooting 10-36 from the field and 1-13 from beyond the arc, Florida State experienced similar early struggles, making just six first-half field goals. The Cavaliers also outrebounded the Seminoles 29-14 in the first half, staking an even more commanding 13-1 advantage in terms of second chances off the offensive glass. Taken together, these defense-dominated statistics added up to a bland 22-20 first half score in Virginia’s favor.

The Seminoles responded, though, by shooting 70.8 percent from the field in the second half, with 11 assists on 17 field goals. Virginia hit 6-of-14 from beyond the three-point arc in the second half but could not keep up with Toney Douglas and company in the closing minutes.

Senior and leading scorer Douglas had a quiet opening period, hitting just 2-of-5 field goals and two free throws for four points, but he responded with a more characteristic second half that led the Seminoles’ charge. Douglas hit 5-of-8 field goals in the second, including eight straight points to give the Seminoles a five-point lead with 10:02 remaining, its largest lead to that point.

Florida State senior Uche Echefu also had an efficient night, hitting 6-of-9 field goals for 17 points and adding six rebounds. Freshman Sylven Landesberg led all Virginia scorers with 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting, while sophomore Mike Scott had a near double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao went with the same starting lineup he used Saturday against North Carolina, using Baker, Landesberg, sophomore guard Jeff Jones, junior guard Solomon Tat and freshman center Assane Sene. Senior forward Mamadi Diane did not appear for the second consecutive game; prior to the game against North Carolina, he had played in every game during his Virginia career.

The Cavaliers will look for their elusive second conference win Sunday against No. 12 Clemson. 2008 Virginia graduate Sean Singletary will have his number retired at halftime.

—compiled by Paul Montana

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