Sophomore power forward Mfiondu Kabengele recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Florida State to a 76-69 first-round victory over Vermont on Thursday in West Region play of the NCAA Tournament at Hartford, Conn.
Senior guard Terance Mann scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as the fourth-seeded Seminoles (28-7) controlled the final 11 1/2 minutes.
Florida State will next play No. 12 Murray State in the second round on Saturday. The Racers pulled off the famed 12-5 upset against Marquette, winning 83-64.
Junior forward Anthony Lamb scored 16 points for the 13th-seeded Catamounts (27-7), who drop to 2-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Sophomore guards Stef Smith and Ben Shungu, along with senior guard Ernie Duncan, all scored 15 points apiece.
Vermont was 16 of 32 from 3-point range but had just seven two-point baskets while shooting 43.4 percent overall. The Catamounts committed 16 turnovers.
“I’ve never seen a team shoot that good from the perimeter,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Vermont in a CBS postgame interview.
The Seminoles had just seven miscues but shot only 38.2 percent from the field, including 3 of 12 from behind the arc.
Florida State senior forward Phil Cofer missed the game with an injured right foot. After the game, Cofer learned that his father died following a lengthy illness.
Vermont led 45-44 after two free throws by Lamb with 11:34 remaining but the Seminoles rattled off six straight points and 11 of the next 14.
Mann scored the go-ahead hoop and Kabengele followed with two free throws. The Catamounts came up empty on the offensive end, and the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Kabengele got loose in transition and slammed home a dunk to give Florida State a 50-45 advantage with 9:02 remaining.
Smith buried a 3-pointer with 8:39 left to pull Vermont within two. But the Seminoles scored the next five points with Mann driving downcourt and slicing through defenders for a layup to make it 55-48 with 6:09 left.
Mann was at it again a short time later as he cut through the lane and switched the ball to his left hand to convert the layup and increase the lead to 59-51 with 4:28 remaining.
Mann and junior guard Trent Forrest later made two free throws apiece as the lead reached 10 for the first time at 68-58 with 1:39 left.
The lead topped out at 13.
Vermont was 7 of 13 from 3-point range in a first half that concluded in a tie at 27.
—Field Level Media