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FSU shakes off sluggish start to rout Florida

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Seventh heaven.

Scottie Barnes scored a season-best 17 points, throwing down some highlight-reel dunks, while MJ Walker had 17 points and Anthony Polite added 14 points as No. 20 Florida State shook off a difficult start and knocked off Florida 83-71 on Saturday afternoon.

The early morning start contributed to early struggles. But FSU (3-0) finished off Florida for a seventh straight time.

First things first. Keyontae Johnson collapsed at midcourt in one of the scariest scenes we’ve ever seen. The Tucker Center was very quiet and both teams were stunned. Johnson was carted off the court and was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. He is in critical but stable condition, per a Florida spokesperson. Our thoughts are with him, the family and the team. UF coach Mike White was headed to TMH postgame while the team bus went back to Gainesville.

“It had a really dramatic affect on my team,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said, noting several FSU players were crying and prayed while Johnson was down on the court. “We’re just all hopeful and praying that he’s ok.”

Hamilton conveyed that he offered to halt the game but White and UF administrators opted to continue.

Florida State was lethargic early. Shots not only weren’t falling but there were a few airballed 3s and a turnaround jumper that missed the iron. The Seminoles trailed 23-14 at the 9:07 mark. The Seminoles then went on a remarkable 17-0 run. Wyatt Wilkes’ pull-up jumper from the baseline at the 7:05 mark put FSU ahead for good, 24-23. Anthony Polite made two 3s as part of the run.

Polite had 12 points at the half on 3 of 4 shooting from 3-point range. He looked tentative early, passing up an open 3-point attempt but, likely as the team did, settled in midway through the first half. Polite had a quiet second half but for a player who isn’t the go-to guy, he picks his spots and delivers with consistent jump shooting and defense.

Barnes lit it up in the final minute. He dribbled the ball up court, building steam and threw down a one-handed dunk. Next possession, he drove the lane and finished with a lefty layup. The jumper still isn’t consistent, but Barnes shot 5 of 6 from the floor for 13 points at the half.

Walker had a relatively quiet shooting game overall but found success at the free-throw line. He made 12 of 12 free-throw attempts and finished with 15 points. The Seminoles were much better on Saturday at the line, making 23 of 30 (77 percent) after making just 52 percent of their free-throw attempts on Wednesday.

Even with the misfires, FSU made 8 of 16 shots from beyond the arc.

“We showed some stretches where we could be a really good basketball team,” Hamilton said. “We’re still working to get in a consistent groove.”

FSU is back at the Tucker Center on Tuesday to face Georgia Tech at 8:30 p.m. (ACC Network).