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Florida State upsets No. 21 Florida

Florida State upsets No. 21 Florida
Published On: Sun, Dec 11
Dec 19, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida A&M Rattlers head coach Clemon Johnson talks with guard Jamie Adams (3) during the first half against the South Florida Bulls at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla -- Florida State is on a bit of a winning streak as of late against Florida.

And not just in basketball.

Needing a signature victory to add to its early season resume, the Seminoles' hoops team got just that Sunday against the No. 21 Gators 83-78 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

But it was just the latest Florida State victory against its bitter rival.

Two weeks ago, Florida State beat Florida in football 31-13 -- marking the fourth win a row on the gridiron -- then a few days later, the Lady Seminoles' volleyball team came back from a two-set deficit to beat the Lady Gators in the NCAA Tournament. And earlier this week, the Florida State women's basketball team romped Florida 83-58.

Then there's this: Sunday's victory by Florida State extended its win streak in basketball against Florida (7-3) to three straight -- its longest such streak since the 2006-08 seasons.

"It feels good (to beat Florida)," said Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon, who poured in a game-high 24 points in Sunday's win -- pushing his double-digit scoring streak to 20 games. "Second year in a row for me."

It was Bacon who last year sunk the Gators in the final seconds with a jumper to earn Florida State the win, and he and fellow guard Terance Mann -- who notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds Sunday -- played hero for the Seminoles (10-1) in this one.

Especially in the final minute.

The Seminoles led by as many as 13 points in the second half but the Gators didn't go away, cutting the margin to three points twice in the final minutes. But with Florida State ahead 77-74 with 41.8 seconds remaining in the game, Mann grabbed a big rebound on a Gators miss and then calmly sank two free throws to put the Seminoles ahead by five points 79-74 and all but seal it.

"Terance is obviously turning out to be a leader, he's a stat stuffer, he does all the little things," said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team improved to 8-0 at home this year. "He's a winner, a leader. All the tough, hard-nosed plays that have to be made, he always seems to make them."

The tight finish was a fitting end to the annual Sunshine State rivalry showdown, which had been decided by two points or fewer in its last two meetings coming into Sunday.

Florida State's victory was its sixth straight win since its lone defeat of the year -- a three-point loss to Temple on Nov. 24 in Brooklyn, N.Y. -- and the Seminoles will likely move back into the AP Top 25 poll when the new one is released Monday. They spent one week at No. 25 before the loss to the Owls knocked them out.

The Gators, meanwhile, lost their second straight after also falling to No. 5 Duke on Tuesday. Two of the Gators' first three losses have come to Top 10 teams -- the Blue Devils and No. 8 Gonzaga.

"(Bacon) did a good job of getting in the paint and breaking down our defense," said Florida coach Mike White, who is now 0-2 against the Seminoles since taking over last season, as well as 1-4 against teams from the ACC. "Dwayne's just a terrific player. Credit him and Terance Mann down the stretch."

Florida guard Kasey Hill led the Gators with 21 points on 10 of 15 shooting. He had 15 points to lead all scorers at the half, but the Florida State defense limited him to just six points in the second half.

Both teams struggled from the 3-point line Sunday. The Gators finished 4 of 16, while the Seminoles were 4 of 15.

Florida State turned the ball over nine times in the first half, but the Seminoles cleaned up their mistakes in the second half and finished with just 14 turnovers for the game. The Gators committed just nine turnovers in the loss.

Florida State center Michael Ojo added eight points and seven rebounds in the game, and he finished 6 of 6 from the free throw line -- a stat he took particular pride in afterward.

"I've been working (on my foul shots), and see -- I was 6 of 6 tonight," he said before adding with a laugh: "And we won by five. So, yeah, that was huge for me and for us."

Seminoles second-leading scorer, freshman Jonathan Isaac, returned Sunday after missing two games with a hip flexor injury. Isaac, who had scored in double figures in every game he's played this season, saw that streak just barely snapped when he finished with nine points and six rebounds in the win.

After a slim, two-point lead at halftime, Florida State shot out of the gate in the second half on a 20-10 run and seized control of the game. Seven of those points during that run coming from Bacon, who came in averaging 16.6 points a game this season and put on another show Sunday for the dozen-plus NBA scouts in attendance for the game.

Another victory scored by the Seminoles on Sunday was holding Gators guard and leading scorer KeVaughn Allen to just 16 points. It was Allen who poured in 32 points on the Florida State defense during last year's loss as he nearly beat the Seminoles single-handedly if not for that last-second game-winner from Bacon.

Outside of Hill and Allen, no other Gator players finished in double figures. Forward Kevarrius Hayes added four points and led Florida in rebounding with seven boards.

At the halfway mark of the first half, Florida held an 18-15 edge on Florida State, with nine of the Gators' points being scored by Hill. But when Seminoles guard Braian Angola-Rodas was fouled on his made 3-pointer and then converted the and-one, the Seminoles grabbed a 21-20 lead -- their first since the opening bucket of the game.

The Gators regained the lead 32-29 with two minutes to play, but a 7-2 run by the Seminoles to close the half gave them a 36-34 edge at intermission.

"We could've gone into the half up four or six points," White lamented. "But some uncharacteristic mistakes near the end of the first half and the pace they set coming out in the second half hurt us. Obviously, we really wanted this one. But basketball is long season, and learning from losses like this is just part of the journey."

Sunday marked Florida State's fourth game in eight games. The Seminoles get a six-day breather before taking on Manhattan in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday.

The Gators will try to snap their skid when they next host Charleston on Saturday.

Bacon was asked after the win if he thought the Seminoles deserved to be back in the Top 25.

"I definitely think so," he said.

NOTES: Florida and Florida State met for the 58th time in school history Sunday in a series that dates back to the 1951-52 season. The Gators now own a 43-25 advantage against the Seminoles following Sunday's win/loss ... Florida State's depth has been its biggest strength so far early in the season with a staggering 13 players averaging double-figure minutes. ... Florida coach Mike White was assessed a technical foul just six minutes into the second half after Florida State extended its lead to 54-44, but Seminoles guard Terance Mann missed both foul shots ... Attendance for Sunday's game was 10,029.

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