<
>

Florida State holds off Virginia to maintain share of ACC lead

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Okaro White says he doesn't mind being
Florida State's sixth man.

Florida State's rail-thin 6-foot-8 sophomore came off the bench
Saturday, scored 13 points and helped slow down Virginia star Mike Scott to spark the Seminoles (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) to a 58-55 victory.

"I really try to pinpoint what's going on in the game," White
said about watching from the bench in the first few minutes of
games. "I know when I go in what I can get."

And he got plenty Saturday, adding five rebounds in relief.

"Okaro has really settled in to being a go-to guy in the second
half," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Okaro has been
making an impact the whole year."

Scott was limited to only three second half attempts and four
points while being tagged by White for much of that time.

Xavier Gibson added 10 points to help White offset some scoring
lost from leading scorers Michael Snaer and Bernard James, who
combined for just 12 points in Florida State's seventh straight
ACC.

The Seminoles are in a first-place tie in the league.

"We're not going away," Snaer said. "We're in the hunt to win
the title."

It's the first time that Florida State (16-6, 7-1) has won seven
straight games in ACC play since joining the league in 1991-92.

Virginia
(No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) climbed back from a 13-point
second-half deficit, but Jontel Evans' desperation 30-footer didn't
get off in time before the final buzzer -- it bounced off the rim
anyway. Virginia's four losses this season have come by a total of
10 points.

Scott and Joe Harris led the Cavaliers (17-4, 4-3) with 16 points apiece.
Scott also had 11 rebounds.

Virginia got the ball back with 34 seconds left and down three,
but Harris missed a 3 and Deividas Dulkys was fouled on the rebound
and sank the first of two shots to give Florida State a 56-52 lead
with 14 seconds left.

Jeff Peterson added two free throws with 7 seconds left to make
it 58-52, but Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon countered with a 3 to make
it 58-55.

For a while in the second half it looked as if the Seminoles
would pull away.

"We got sped up and rattled in a stretch there where if you
want to be successful in a game like this, you can't turn it
away," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We've got to clean up
some of these (20) turnovers and be more efficient to play against
a team like this because baskets aren't easy to come by."

But Virginia climbed back into the game with a 14-0 run capped
by Evans' layup off a steal that gave the Cavalier s 45-44 lead
with 4:41 left after Florida State had opened a 13-point advantage
twice earlier.

"We opened up the court a little more, went with four guards
and got some transition buckets," Bennett said. "That got us into
it. Shooting is a funny thing: you just never know when you're
going to start hitting some."

Neither did Florida State's Snaer, who went scoreless for almost
36 minutes before breaking loose for eight points in the final
4:41.

Snaer's first basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the corner,
put the Seminoles back into the lead at 47-45 and Luke Loucks
followed with a driving layup seconds later to make it 49-45. Snaer
added another 3 and a layup down the stretch.

It was a defensive battle from the opening tip with Scott and
Harris combining for Virginia's first 17 points before Sammy Zeglinski's 3 got the Cavaliers to within 21-20 with 3:26 left in
the half.

Scott hit four straight free throws in a 10-second span to tie
the score at 17 after a flagrant foul was called on Gibson.

Florida State, which led 23-22 at halftime, had its biggest lead
in the first half at 17-10.

The Seminoles have now won six straight over Virginia, which
hasn't won in the series since the 2007 and is winless in
Tallahassee since 2001.

Florida State visits Boston College on Wednesday before
returning home for a two-game home stand starting with Miami on
Feb. 11. Virginia returns home to host Wake Forest on Wednesday.