TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)—Florida State’s Toney Douglas did it again Sunday.
The 6-foot-1 dynamo’s second-half scoring eruptions all season have propelled the Seminoles into an opening round bye at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. He scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to lead No. 24 Florida State to a 63-53 win over Virginia Tech.
A dozen of the points came in the minutes after the Hokies pulled to within 45-42.
“I feel like I can score whenever I want,” Douglas said. “I know what I’m going to end up doing. I had to take over.”
The loss dealt a major blow to Virginia Tech’s NCAA hopes. Coach Seth Greenberg could only shake his head about the player he said might be the league’s MVP.
“Every time down the stretch he makes a play,” Greenberg said. “I don’t think there’s been many times this season when he’s had the opportunity to make a play that he hasn’t.”
And Greenberg had warned his players that Douglas would try to take the game over after it got close.
“We knew they’d go to him,” Greenberg said. “(And) he comes down and makes two 3-pointers.”
It didn’t surprise Douglas’ coach, Leonard Hamilton.
“I could see it in his eyes,” Hamilton said. “He wanted this day to end right.”
Douglas, the top scorer in conference play at more than 23 points per game, sparked the run that gave the Seminoles a 59-49 lead, and they cruised from there. He also led the team with three assists and a pair of steals, giving him 60 on the season.
Florida State (23-8, 10-6) led 32-25 after a ragged first half in which the two teams combined for 23 turnovers and the Hokies shot just 24 percent.
The Seminoles led the entire game.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Greenberg said.
A.D. Vassallo scored 14 points to lead Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9).
Vassallo, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, didn’t get his first field goal until 2:09 was gone in the second half. He managed only a pair of free throws before the break.
Malcolm Delaney finished with 13 for the Hokies, who shot just 30.8 percent.
Playing his final game before home fans on Senior Day, Douglas didn’t get his first field goal until 10:30 was gone in the first half, finally hitting a runner just outside the lane.
Douglas has scored at least 19 points in Florida State’s last 15 ACC games.
The Seminoles’ 23 wins are their most since the 1992-93 team that finished 25-10 before being eliminated in the NCAA’s round of eight by Kentucky. No ACC team with 10 league wins has ever failed to make the NCAA tournament.
Florida State was up by as many as 14 points on two occasions in the first half, but several unforced errors kept the Seminoles from building a larger lead. The Seminoles swept the season series, defeating the Hokies 67-65 in Blacksburg, Va., on Feb. 21.
Florida State’s starters went scoreless the first 7:31 before Douglas sank a pair of free throws for a 10-5 lead.