Florida State faces a tall order trying to contain No. 13 Virginia’s smallest stars when the teams meet Saturday in an Atlantic Coast Conference contest in Tallahassee, Fla.
Kihei Clark, a 5-foot-10 fifth-year senior, and 6-3 junior Reece Beekman are two of four players averaging double figures in scoring for Virginia this season at 11.1 and 10.0, respectively.
The Cavaliers (12-3, 4-2 ACC) have won four of their last five and are coming off a 65-58 home victory against North Carolina on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles (5-12, 3-3) continued their up-and-down play in the conference with a 90-75 setback at Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
Virginia won the first meeting 62-57 in Charlottesville on Dec. 3 in the ACC opener for both teams. Florida State fell to 1-9 with that defeat but has since gone 4-3.
Clark scored a game-high 18 points in that win against the Seminoles. Beekman finished with 13 points, five assists and five steals in Tuesday’s win against the Tar Heels.
Virginia trailed North Carolina by seven with 15 minutes to play before deploying a smaller lineup that also included 6-4 guards Armaan Franklin (12 points, nine rebounds) and Isaac McKneely (11 points).
“We were struggling really to just shoot the ball and score in that first half and parts of the second, and then we said, ‘Let’s go small and take a look at a few things,’ ” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said. “And I think it just started opening things up.”
Ben Vander Plas led Virginia with 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals off the bench. He sank three shots from behind the arc; and Virginia is 8-1 when he makes at least one 3-pointer in a game.
Florida State shot just 32.8 percent from the field in the December loss at Virginia. Darin Green scored 17 points and Matthew Cleveland had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Seminoles.
The Seminoles shot a season-high 53.7 percent in Wednesday’s loss to the Demon Deacons. Cleveland had 19 points and 12 boards for his sixth straight double-double — the longest streak at FSU since Greg Grady in 1974-75 — and Caleb Mills also contributed 19 points.
Wake Forest countered Florida State’s hot shooting night by hitting 55.6 percent from the field and 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from long distance.
“We are not quite there yet,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We are doing some things fairly well, but we are not doing enough of them against experienced teams.”
Freshman Baba Miller, a 6-11 center from Spain, made his long-awaited Seminoles debut and totaled four points and four rebounds in 17 minutes. The former Real Madrid player just completed a 16-game suspension for violating NCAA rules for receiving improper benefits.
“There is no doubt that he is going to be an outstanding player for us,” Hamilton said. “But you’ve got to let him get his feet under him. … The first two minutes he was out there, he was gassed.”
–Field Level Media