LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (seminoles.com) — Sparks flew in the magic kingdom as No. 14 Florida State opened the first bracketed round of the AdvoCare Invitational with an 81-63 win over Alabama-Birmingham.
Bolstered by a 5-for-5 night from the field and a 6-of-7 effort at the free-throw line, forward Terance Mann scored a game-high 17 points. The senior has scored in double digits in each of FSU’s last three games.
The Seminoles (4-0, 0-0) relied upon their signature stingy defense to blow past the Blazers (3-1,0-0), holding UAB to 19 of 58 from the field (33 percent) and 2-14 (14 percent) from the 3-point line.
Both marks were a season-best for the Noles, and their two 3-point shots allowed were the least by an FSU team since Fordham made just one on Nov. 17, 2018.
After a slow start that saw scoreless basketball for the first 2:30, FSU senior PJ Savoy found his stride, connecting on back-to-back 3-point baskets to earn the game’s first points.
With the game tied 8-8 five minutes into the first half, senior Christ Koumadje catapulted an 11-1 run that held UAB without a field goal for 6:18.
Off an inbound lob, Koumadje threw down a heavy dunk that put the Noles up 14-11. A few possessions later, he had yet another slam that extended the lead to five.
Koumadje used his size and strength to dominate the paint all night. He finished with 12 points, a career-high tying nine rebounds and three blocks. His three blocks put him over 100 blocks for his career.
The Noles would run through the first half off of a balanced scoring attack that saw nine different Seminoles score at least one basket. Fresh off a 10-point showing against Canisius, freshman Devin Vassell hit a corner 3-point shot to put FSU up 27-15 at the 7:01 mark
Later in the first, fifth-year senior guard David Nichols drove hard right on a pump fake with 5 and drew contact on his lay-up, earning an and-one bucket to put the Noles up 30-20.
Redshirt sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele continued his impressive start as a key member off the bench, finishing with 10 points, good for his third double-digit outing of the season and the 14th of his career.
Vassell, meanwhile, continued the host start to his career in Tallahassee. The promising freshman finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, including a perfect 2-for-2 from the 3-point point line.
He also finished with three rebounds and two steals.
The Seminoles will have a quick turnaround leading into their first game against a ranked opponent this season. They’ll meet No. 19 LSU, a 67-55 winner over the College of Charleston earlier in the day, at 4:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2/ESPNU).
A win would put the Seminoles in the AdvoCare Invitational championship game, against either defending champion Villanova or Oklahoma State.