NICEVILLE — Devin Vassell scored 13 and made a key steal and pair of free throws in the final minute as Florida State upended No. 17 Tennessee 60-57 Friday in the Emerald Coast Classic.
FSU (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 three minutes.
Ten players scored for FSU, but M.J. Walker was the only other Seminole in double figures with 10 points. Lamonte Turner led the Vols with 20. 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 throws with 32 seconds left to put FSU ahead by four before Vassell stole the ball. He then made two free throws to ice the game.
“No doubt this had an NCAA, ACC tournament type of feel,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We knew we had to step it up in order to be successful against a team of this caliber. They kept coming back. They didn’t go away.”
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said the Vols had to rely too much on Turner.
“We can’t play with one offensive player on the floor,” Barnes said. “When guys are open, they should shoot their shots.”
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 Associated Press 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 FSU 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.
FSU faces the winner of Friday’s late game between No. 20 VCU and Purdue on Saturday (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in the championship game.
Tennessee plays the VCU-Purdue loser on Saturday in the consolation game.