NICEVILLE, Fla. — Devin Vassell scored 13 points and made a key steal and pair of free throws in the final minute as Florida State upended No. 17 Tennessee 60-57 on Friday in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Florida State (6-1) started hot, sprinting to a 14-2 lead. The Seminoles never trailed, although the Volunteers (5-1) twice closed the gap to three points in the final 3 minutes.
Ten players scored for Florida State, but M.J. Walker was the only other Seminole in double figures with 10 points. Lamonte Turner led the Vols with 20 points. Yves Pons added 13. Jordan Bowden had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Bowden hit a 3-pointer and Davonte Gaines made a pair of free throws in the final two minutes to narrow the margin to 57-54. Trent Forrest made one of two free-throw attempts with 32 seconds left to put Florida State ahead by four before Vassell stole the ball. He then made two free throws to ice the game.
Florida State: The Seminoles notched their second victory over a ranked team and extended their winning streak to six games since losing 63-61 at Pittsburgh to open the season. They won at then-No. 6 Florida, 63-51, on Nov. 10. FSU went into Friday’s game with the most votes of any unranked team in the AP college basketball poll, so defeating Tennessee could put the Seminoles into the Top 25. A victory in the tournament championship game would only solidify their case to be ranked.
Tennessee: Losing to a solid Florida State team may have slowed but perhaps not derailed the Vols’ upward momentum in the rankings. They could get back on track quickly because they are assured of facing a quality opponent in the tournament’s consolation game. Coach Rick Barnes remains three wins short of his 700th career victory. The loss also snapped Tennessee’s five-game winning streak against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
Florida State faces the winner of Friday’s late game between No. 20 VCU and Purdue on Saturday in the championship game.
Tennessee plays the VCU-Purdue loser on Saturday in the consolation game.