TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton took his two of his leading scorers out of the starting lineup for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. Their replacements ended up being more than adequate.
PJ Savoy led the Seminoles with 18 points and M.J. Walker added 16 as they were able to rally and pull away in the second half for an 88-75 victory over the Panthers.
Hamilton said after the game that Terance Mann, who is averaging a team-high 14.4 points, and Brian Angola, who is third on the team at 13.2, did not start and play the first half due to "a minor indiscretion."
Savoy and Walker both said that they didn't know they were starting until five minutes before the game.
"I was pleased with the way everyone responded," Hamilton said. "PJ and M.J. showed a lot of poise. They didn't have any problems adjusting at all."
All five of Savoy's field goals were 3-pointers as he led the Seminoles (19-8, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) in scoring for the second time this season. The 6-foot-4 junior missed seven games but is averaging 12.3 points and is 10 of 21 on 3-pointers in three games since returning from a knee injury.
"My teammates were able to find me in open spots. Hitting my first two shots was able to give me a lot of energy," he said.
Walker, a 6-5 freshman, didn't seem fazed about getting his first collegiate start. He was 7 of 8 at the foul line as Florida State went 29 of 40, including 13 of 17 in the second half.
"It was my first start since high school but I was able to adjust and play my game," he said.
The Panthers (8-20, 0-15) led 39-38 at halftime after hitting 10 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half but Florida State took the lead with a 9-2 run to start the second half. Pitt, which was 2 of 6 on 3-pointers in the second half, was still within three (74-71) with 3:29 remaining but FSU took control with a 7-1 run.
The Seminoles, who were 26 of 47 from the field, took 18 more trips to foul line and had a 36-24 advantage in points in the paint. They also had a 17-3 edge in second-chance points.
"We couldn't guard effectively without fouling. That's another sign of our inexperience," Panthers coach Kevin Stallings said after three of his players fouled out, including two starters. "We did a very good job of taking care of the ball and for the most part getting good shots."
Jared Wilson-Frame and Shamiel Stevenson led Pittsburgh with 17 points each and Parker Stewart added 16.
Pittsburgh: It was only the third time in ACC play that the Panthers had led at halftime and first time in any road game this season. However, Pitt's losing streak in regular-season ACC games is now at 19. Its last win ironically was a year ago against Florida State.
Florida State: A loss to the Panthers would have been detrimental to the Seminoles' NCAA Tournament hopes, but barring a collapse in the final two weeks of the regular season, they have set themselves up well for consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 2012.
Mann and Angola both got in during the second half. Mann scored four points in 14 minutes while Angola was scoreless, going 0 for 2 from the field, in five minutes.
Phil Cofer was held scoreless in the first half for the second straight game but ended up scoring 14 points. The senior had 17 in the second half and overtime of last Wednesday's win over No. 11 Clemson. ... FSU redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele had 13 points, which is his most in ACC play. He was 9 of 11 from the foul line.
Pittsburgh has its next two games at home, starting Wednesday against Wake Forest.
Florida State has a week off before going to North Carolina State on Feb. 25.