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Mills, Cleveland push FSU past UNF

Taking the court about 36 hours after an upset of one of the nation’s best teams, Florida State played predictably sluggish before putting away one of the worst teams in Division I.

Caleb Mills scored 21 points while Matthew Cleveland had 21 points and 10 rebounds — his first college double-double — as FSU knocked off North Florida 86-73 on Thursday afternoon in a game that was rescheduled from December.

“I was pleased with Matthew Cleveland,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought he played with an extreme amount of energy. A double-double from a freshman is always good.”

Mills shot 8 of 12 from the floor and added four assists and a steal. Cleveland shot 8 of 16 from the floor with four assists and two steals.

Tanor Ngom had a career-best 13 points and added three rebounds for FSU (12-5), which pulled away in the second half with an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 72-56 with 7:42 to go.

The Seminoles upset No. 6 Duke in overtime on Tuesday in a game that went until almost midnight. Arriving at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Thursday morning, FSU put away a UNF team that is ranked 301 by KenPom.com.

“We tried to not play some of our guys as much because we have four games in eight days,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure that had a little bit to do with us not getting in rhythm. Overall, I was pleased to get some of these guys extended minutes, give them a chance to grow as Florida State basketball players.” 

FSU coaches opted to rest forward Malik Osborne and emptied out the bench, using Naheem McLeod (two points, three rebounds) for 12 minutes, Ngom for nine minutes and Quincy Ballard (two points, four rebounds) for eight minutes. Ten Seminoles scored, including Anthony Polite (nine points, four rebounds) and RayQuan Evans (seven points, four assists).

Ngom played briefly against Duke, the first time he had been in a game since the Boston University game before Thanksgiving. He said he had just one full practice before the Duke game but spent most of his time in the weight room and on the treadmill trying to do what he could to get into game conditioning.

“It felt amazing, I’m not going to lie,” Ngom said. “Being on the sidelines sometimes, on the outside looking in, you feel like you’re not even a factor. It’s sometimes hard connecting to your teammates the way you want to. So being out there and actually being able to contribute to the win was amazing.”

One sore spot: FSU’s rotational players needed to log heavy minutes to hold off UNF late. Mills and Cleveland each played 27 minutes, while Polite played 23 minutes and McLeod 22 minutes. That could come into play as the Seminoles now turn their attention to Miami on Saturday.

Jarius Hicklen had 27 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including 6 of 12 from 3-point range. The Ospreys drilled 14 of 24 shots (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

FSU had a 38-21 rebound edge over the smaller Ospreys (4-13).

Box score

The FSU-UNF box score can be viewed here.

Up next

FSU plays at Miami on Saturday at 2 p.m. (ESPN).