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Seminoles trounce Virginia at home

During third game in five days, fatigued Cavaliers drop fourth straight in disheartening 69-50 loss

The Virginia men's basketball team lost its fourth consecutive game last night, falling 69-50 at home against Florida State.

The Seminoles' defense - which surrenders, on average, an ACC-lowest 61.2 points per game this season - suffocated a tired Virginia (14-10, 5-6 ACC) team, which was playing its third game in five days. Virginia managed only 24 points during the first half, and things did not get any easier in the second, as the team only cracked the 50-point mark with just a few seconds remaining in the game.

"The manner in which we lost was frustrating," coach Tony Bennett said. "Our limitations are there - you can see that. We struggle to score ... But when we get down or adversity strikes, we aren't able to muster up enough to rally from it, and that's a concern."

Bennett altered the team's starting lineup yesterday night, adding junior guard Jeff Jones and senior guard Calvin Baker in an attempt to jump-start a worn-out team.

"We tried to change the lineup a little bit and see if we could get a scoring punch from Jeff and use Calvin's experience," Bennett said.

The Cavaliers shot 3-for-8 from behind the arc during the first half, which effectively kept them in the game. With Florida State (19-7, 7-5 ACC) up 22-12 at the 6:16 mark, Jones - who led all scorers with 13 points - made two consecutive threes to cut the margin to four. After Jones stole the ball on Florida State's next possession, sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg made a jumper to cut the lead to two.

"I always have confidence in my game," Jones said. "So whenever I'm in there, I just stay aggressive and try to keep my team in the game however I can."

But Virginia never got any closer after that. The Seminoles ended the half on an 11-4 run and went into the locker room with a comfortable nine-point lead.

Although Virginia was able to hang on in the first half - providing a crowd of 10,365 with an incentive to stick around - it did not give the fans much of a reason stay in their seats for the second, as the game quickly became one-sided.

Florida State opened the second frame on an 11-4 run, going up 44-28 at the 15:46 mark, which prompted Bennett to call a timeout.

But nothing could slow the Seminole onslaught. Florida State worked the lead to 23 points, and even though Virginia had the game's highest scorer, Florida State sported a more balanced attack with four players in double figures.

Sophomore forward Chris Singleton led the way for the Seminoles, scoring 12 points and shutting down Landesberg, who only managed four points on the night.

"[Singleton] made it hard," Bennett said. "All the looks were contested, and it was hard to get inside touches."

Bennett sat Landesberg for an unusually large stretch during the second half, sensing his fatigue and frustration.

"We didn't have any answers so I thought we should get some fresh legs in there and see if we can attack a little more and create a little more movement [on offense]," Bennett said. "He looked sluggish tonight like everybody."

The Seminoles limited the Cavaliers to 37.5 percent shooting from the field and scored nearly twice as much as the Cavaliers' total in the paint - 38-20 - despite only nabbing three more rebounds.\nBut when Florida State made it to the line, it often stumbled, sinking only 6-of-12 shots from the charity stripe. Most of these free throws, however, came after a made basket, as the Seminoles connected on several and-one plays, showing that perhaps Virginia was a step behind on defense.

Players, though, were skeptical to attribute the loss to physical fatigue.

"It's not that hard [to play three games in five days]," junior forward Mike Scott said. "I don't think it was [physical] fatigue. Our minds were fatigued."

As the game was ending, Bennett slipped freshman forward Tristan Spurlock into the game for the final five minutes. Spurlock converted an impressive and-one and tallied five points.

"I thought I played good," Spurlock said. "I thought I played good defense against Singleton. I thought my rotation in the pack was good. I just feel like the more reps I get on the court, the better I'll be, so helpfully that'll continue."

The Cavaliers will have two full days' rest before facing Clemson on the road, their fourth game in eight days.