CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kihei Clark scored 18 points and No. 3 Virginia overcame poor shooting to beat Florida State 62-57 on Saturday and win its 15th straight Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
Virginia (7-0) trailed 22-21 after both teams shot under 30% in the first half. The Cavaliers started the second half with a 22-9 run to lead 43-31 midway through the half.
Florida State (1-9) scored the next six points, then didn’t score again for five minutes as the Cavaliers rebuilt their advantage. The Seminoles got within 55-50 on Matthew Cleveland’s jumper with a minute left, and within four on Darin Green Jr.’s jumper with 40 seconds left.
Reece Beekman hit two free throws with 34 seconds left for Virginia.
The gap was three after Caleb Mills’ acrobatic three-point play with 7.5 seconds left, but Beekman again was fouled and his pair of free throws with 7 seconds left finished it.
Last year, it was Cleveland’s buzzer-beating jumper that gave the Seminoles a 64-63 victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
Green scored 17 points in the Seminoles’ fifth straight loss.
Jayden Gardner added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, including a tip-in with 3:07 left after Florida State closed to 51-43.
The victory was just the second for Virginia in the last six meetings and marked the 21st time in the last 22 matchups the Cavaliers held FSU under 70 points.
The first half was more physical than finesse with Virginia called for nine personal fouls while making just six field goals. The Seminoles had seven field goals and six fouls.
Florida St.: The Seminoles are younger than expected. They continue to play without freshman Baba Miller, who is suspended for the first 16 games of the season for getting an improper travel benefit, and Brown transfer Jaylan Gainey, the two-time Ivy League defensive player of the year who will miss the season with a knee injury.
Virginia: Even when their offense is clicking, the Cavaliers always count on their defense to keep them in games, and it worked in this one. The Seminoles finished 21 of 64 from the field (33%) and Virginia finished with four steals and 10 blocks, four by Kadin Shedrick.
The Seminoles return home to play Louisville next Saturday.
Virginia remains at home and faces James Madison on Tuesday night.
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