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No. 2 Virginia falls to No. 12 Florida State in semis, 69-59

Cavaliers eliminated from conference tournament in upset win by Seminoles

Junior guard Ty Jerome scored ten points, all in the second half, as Virginia fell to Florida State 69-59.
Junior guard Ty Jerome scored ten points, all in the second half, as Virginia fell to Florida State 69-59.

With a chance to play in the ACC Tournament final on the line, No. 2 Virginia fell to No. 12 Florida State. The 10-point win for the Seminoles (27-6) spoiled the Cavaliers’ (29-3) hopes of repeating as regular season and tournament champions in the ACC. 

Early on, both Virginia and Florida State exchanged narrow leads in the first few minutes of the game. However, as the Cavaliers struggled offensively, Florida State built a 13-8 lead with 13:48 to go in the half. 

Continuing to capitalize on Virginia’s poor shooting, the Seminoles grew their lead to 20-10 about halfway through the first twenty minutes of play. As the half wound down, however, the Cavaliers closed in on Florida State’s lead, getting as close as within two points of the Seminoles. The half ended with Florida State up 35-31.  

With the Seminoles making it difficult for the Cavaliers to find open looks from beyond the arc, Virginia shot a mere 18 percent from three in the opening half of play, and overall, the Cavaliers were shooting 43 percent. They also shot 83 percent from the free-throw-line and committed just three turnovers in the first twenty minutes of the game. 

Initially appearing to have a quiet half, junior guard Kyle Guy started to find his rhythm late in the half for a team-high 11 points. Following a career-high 18-point performance in the quarterfinal round, senior center Jack Salt continued to contribute offensively, adding six points to the scoreboard. 

Sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter also added six points, while junior guard Braxton Key and freshman guard Kihei Clark each had four points. Normally one of Virginia’s greatest offensive weapons, junior guard Ty Jerome struggled to get shots to fall, going 0-for-5 on field goal attempts.

Meanwhile, Florida State’s first half lead was charged by a diversified offense. Senior center Christ Koumadje had nine points, senior forward Phil Cofer had eight points and sophomore guard M.J. Walker had seven. As a team, the Seminoles shot 55 percent on field goals and 40 percent from three while committing seven turnovers. 

In the second half, Virginia continued to hunt down the lead from a Florida State team that wouldn’t give it up easily. After Jerome notched a steal and a wide-open Clark hit a three, the Cavaliers got within one point of the Seminoles. For the first time since the score was 8-7, Virginia reclaimed the lead just over five minutes into the half on a layup from Hunter. 

However, Florida State recaptured the momentum of the game to put some distance between themselves and the Cavaliers as they went up 62-49 with 6:43 to go. A deep three from Jerome with just over two minutes left cut the lead to eight. Virginia continued to chip away at the lead, getting it to 65-59. However, it wasn’t enough for the Cavaliers, as they fell to Florida State, 69-59. 

Virginia shot 41.5 percent overall, just 23.1 percent from three. Hunter was the leading scorer for the Cavaliers with 13 points, while Guy didn’t score at all in the second half and finished with 11 points. Jerome added 10 points, all coming in the second half, but shot only 4-for-13. 

Although Florida State committed 13 turnovers, they shot 57 percent on field goals and 38 percent from beyond the arc. Senior guard David Nichols ended up as the leading scorer for the Seminoles with 14 points, while three other players finished in double figures, including Cofer, who had 11. 

As the Seminoles now prepare to take on either No. 3 North Carolina or No. 5 Duke in the championship game, the Cavaliers will rest up and await the bracket for the NCAA Tournament to be revealed. 


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