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FSU overcomes Vermont in NCAA tourney opener

M.J. Walker of the Florida State basketball team drives past Anthony Lamb of Vermont during the first round game of the 2019 NCAA tournament on Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
M.J. Walker of the Florida State basketball team drives past Anthony Lamb of Vermont during the first round game of the 2019 NCAA tournament on Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Mfiondu Kabengele had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Florida State held off a barrage of 3-pointers from 13th-seeded Vermont in a 76-69 victory Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional.  

Terance Mann added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Seminoles (28-7), who were tied with the Catamounts at halftime but pulled away late.  

Anthony Lamb had 16 points to lead a balanced, long-range attack for Vermont (27-7), which lost for the first time in seven games. Three Catamounts finished with 15 points.  

The America East champions went small - no starter stood over 6-foot-6 - and stayed close by hitting 16 of 32 3-point attempts. The Seminoles countered by wearing out Vermont down low, outscoring the Catamounts 30-14 in the paint.  

A dunk by Kabengele gave Florida State a 50-45 lead with nine minutes left, part of a 6-0 run that put the Seminoles ahead for good. Another by the 6-10 sophomore made it 61-53, and the cheers of Vermont fans, who made the four-hour drive south from Burlington, gave way to the tomahawk chop from behind Florida State's bench.  

Florida State led by 12 with just over a minute left and withstood a late run by Vermont.  

BIG PICTURE  

Vermont: Ernie Duncan, Everett Duncan and Robin Duncan became the first trio of brothers to ever play in the same NCAA Tournament game. Ernie, a senior, finished with 15 points. Everett, a junior, had three, and freshman Robin scored one. Vermont officials say the Duncans are just the fifth trio to play on the same Division I men's team  

Florida State: The win was the 20th for the Seminoles (20-15) in the NCAA Tournament, where they will be looking to advance the Regional semifinals for a sixth time (1972, 1992, 1993, 2011 and 2018).  

UP NEXT  

Florida State will play either Murray State or Marquette in the second round on Saturday