TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Armaan Franklin is being more aggressive on offense and finding his rhythm. His continued emergence and Virginia’s defense were critical to the Cavaliers’ third straight win.
Franklin scored 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds and Ben Vander Plas added 15 points and seven boards as No. 13 Virginia controlled from the opening minutes and defeated Florida State 67-58 on Saturday.
Franklin, a senior guard, averages 11.4 points per game but had 13 points by halftime as Virginia used a 17-2 run early in the game to take a 20-9 lead. The Indiana transfer, who has scored in double figures in six straight games, is 50 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
And it’s no coincidence that Virginia has won five of those six games.
“Some of the things we’re running offensively fit him better and he’s got a freedom about it,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “When the shot is there, he’s being aggressive and hunting the catches, the shots. And then he’s rebounding well for us, too. I like the opportunities he’s getting in terms of being assertive offensively.”
The Cavaliers (13-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) made 11 of 22 3-pointers, the fifth time in 16 games they have connected on 10 or more from beyond the arc. Florida State (5-13, 3-4) has struggled with its perimeter defense, giving up 14 3s in a loss at Wake Forest on Wednesday.
Matthew Cleveland recorded a double-double for the seventh straight game, a feat no Seminole has achieved since Reggie Royals in the 1971-72 season. He had a basket in the final minute to finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
But Cleveland logged 40 minutes, while Darin Green Jr. and Caleb Mills also played 38 minutes apiece. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton has found success historically with a deep bench, but due to injuries he has been forced to use a smaller rotation.
“Right from the beginning of the game, this was not the pace that we practiced at — offensively and defensively,” Hamilton said. “We were a step slow. I was disappointed that our guys didn’t fight through the fatigue like we had been doing many times this year. Today we kind of gave in to it.”
Freshman forward Cameron Corhen added 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting for the Seminoles, who lost at home for the first time in ACC play.
Vander Plas shot 6 of 10 from the floor in his second start of the season, making 3 of 6 3s. Virginia shot 27 of 60 (46.4%) from the floor.
The Cavaliers frustrated the Seminoles on the defensive end, holding FSU to 5 of 19 (26.3%) from 3-point range.
“We made it fairly difficult for them to get good shots,” Bennett said. “They made some tough shots, but we didn’t have too many easy ones for them.”
Virginia is making an argument to move up in the top 25. The Cavaliers were as high as No. 2 in mid-December before a loss to Houston.
After sweeping the season series, Virginia is now 28-28 all-time vs. Florida State. Bennett is 11-11 in his career against the Seminoles.
Hamilton won his 600th career game on Jan. 7 against Georgia Tech. He received a commemorative game ball from that victory in a pregame ceremony on Saturday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers shot 6 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half to pull ahead comfortably and weren’t really threatened in the second half. Virginia made a season-best 13 3s early in the year against Monmouth.
Florida State: The Seminoles were short-handed again, playing without freshman forward Baba Miller (tonsillitis).
Virginia: Hosts Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Florida State: At Notre Dame on Tuesday.
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