TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) After a rough start in Atlantic Coast Conference play, Florida State is starting to show signs of growth.
Led by freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, the young Seminoles took a huge step forward Sunday with a 69-62 victory over No. 13 Virginia.
''This was a very big win for us, especially when you take into consideration we started off the conference race 0-3,'' Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after his team broke a five-game losing streak against ranked opponents. ''Tonight we just (are) showing signs that we are maturing. We weren't quite as insecure. We played with a lot more confidence tonight than we did in some of the games earlier (in the season).''
Bacon led the Seminoles (12-5, 2-3) with 18 points and nine rebounds. He kept Florida State in the game in the first half with 11 points as it trailed 28-25 at halftime.
Beasley, who had 17 points, missed his first five shots from the field but made a big 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer cut the Seminoles' deficit in half going into the locker room. In the second half, the ACC's leading freshmen scorer had 14 points as he made all four of his attempts from the field.
''That gave me a huge confidence boost. It was a great pass from Xavier (Rathan-Mayes),'' Beasley said about the 3-pointer before halftime. ''It is good just to know that he still trusts me regardless of if my shot is off or not.''
The Seminoles trailed 39-36 early in the second half, but took control with a 12-3 run as Beasley had five points.
''He's a competitor. He took great shots. That just says a little bit about who he is as a player that he still has the confidence and the players still have confidence in him,'' Hamilton said about Beasley. ''I told him at halftime, `Take good shots. Those shots are going to fall this half.' Fortunate for us, they did.''
Florida State would lead by as many as eight with six minutes remaining before a free throw by London Parrantes brought Virginia to 57-53 with 3:03 remaining. On Florida State's ensuing possession, Terrance Mann missed a jumper but Rathan-Mayes chased down a long rebound and found Devon Bookert for a wide open 3-pointer to put the Seminoles up comfortably.
That would end up being Florida State's last field goal as it went 9 of 10 from the line to close out the game.
Parrantes led the Cavaliers (13-4, 2-3) with 19 points, while Gill added 13 and Malcolm Brogdon 10. Brogdon came into the game averaging 19.5 points in conference play.
After beginning the season 12-1, Virginia has lost three of its last four.
''It's tough. You're close and you need to have some things go well that haven't been going well but when you can't count on at least getting a stop and making them earn, those things hurt,'' Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. ''''We either missed a bunny or didn't finish or they came away with a shot that was too much of a high percentage shot.''
The game was close for most of the first half before Virginia went on a 10-2 run to lead 28-20 with 2:31 remaining. The Cavaliers hit 5 of 6 from the field during the spurt and got five points from Brogdon. The Seminoles closed out the half with five straight points, including a 3-pointer by Beasley at the buzzer to get within 28-25.
Florida State opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take a four-point lead. Virginia scored nine of the next 11 points for a 39-36 advantage with 12:06 remaining.
Virginia: The Cavaliers came into the game shooting 49 percent from the field but were 22 of 56 against Florida State (39.3 percent). It is Virginia's second-worst shooting performance of the season.
Florida State: The Seminoles made 12 of 19 from the field in the second half, including 4 of 6 3-pointers. They were 9 of 24 from the field in the first half. ... Beasley has scored in double figures in 17 straight games, which is tied with Virginia's Gill for the second longest streak in the ACC. Syracuse's Michael Gbinjie is the leader, scoring in double figures in his last 20 games. ... Bacon, who was 4 of 24 from the field in the first half of his first three ACC games, was 4 of 8 in the first 20 minutes as he scored 11 points.
Virginia hosts Clemson on Tuesday night.
Florida State is at No. 21 Louisville on Wednesday night.
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