Florida State had a game coaches dream about: the Seminoles shot the ball well and defended like their lives depended on it.
"I thought for a young team we displayed an ability to score even though we're in sync. We had some mishaps while trying to learn," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Defensively, that was one of our better nights."
The Seminoles shot 58 percent from the field and made 11 of 20 3-pointers in an 88-70 victory over BYU in the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals on Friday night at the Barclays Center.
The defense Hamilton was so happy about held the Cougars to 33 percent shooting overall and 6 of 25 from 3-point range.
"Thirty-three percent from the field surprised our coaches and players," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Florida State sped us up and we took some quick shots but besides that Florida State shoots 58 percent from the field. Our defense was slow. Our rotations were slow. They did a great job of finding the open man and made some great passes along the baseline."
Florida State (2-1) will play Saint Joseph's in Saturday night's championship game. The Hawks (2-0) beat Notre Dame 79-70 in overtime.
Okaro White scored 17 points for the Seminoles, while Michael Snaer had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Ian Miller and Devon Bookert both added 15 points.
Hamilton said Snaer has more to do than score and rebound.
"Michael, being a senior on such a young team has at some points forced his will on this team," Hamilton said of Snaer who was the MVP of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last season. "He wants all the dirty work, the toughest defensive assignment. He wants to take the big shot or be on the foul line at the end of the game. He led by example for the seven new players."
One of those seven, freshman point guard Devon Bookert, agreed with his coach.
"He's a guy who has been there and done that," said Bookert who was 5 for 7 from the field and had five assists as he took the over running the offense for long stretches. "He is cool all the time, but he's tough when he thinks he has to be."
The Seminoles came into the game shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range but they made 11 of 20 as they led by as many as 27 points in the second half. They shot 58.0 percent (29 for 50) from the field overall while holding down a BYU offense that came in averaging 80.5 points per game.
Tyler Haws had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Cougars (2-1) who were within 50-43 with 17:30 to play.
The Seminoles went on a 13-0 run making all three of their 3-point attempts, two by Snaer.
Florida State went ahead 77-50 with 9:06 to play on a drive by Bookert. The Cougars closed within 14 points twice but got no closer.
Brandon Davies had 19 points for the Cougars despite playing just 21 minutes because of foul trouble.
Matt Carlino, a sophomore guard who averaged 12 points and shot 32.6 percent from 3-point range, missed all nine of his shots from field, including four 3-point attempts, and the Cougars were 6 of 25 from 3-point range and they shot 33 percent overall (25 of 75).
"Matt is a lot stronger and in better shape than last year but they seemed to rush him a little bit," Rose said. "The more he plays the more comfortable he will get. He took good shots but had a hard time making them. If we shoot 25 3s we better make more than six."
Rose made a reference to a game when a big deficit didn't deter the Cougars. BYU rallied from a huge deficit to beat Iona in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last season.
"We were down 25 in a game last year and we won it," he said, "so it can happen."
BYU came into the game shooting 53 percent from the field and 38 percent on 3s.
Haws, who entered the game averaging 22 points a game, scored BYU's first 11 points but the Cougars were down by nine points. Brock Zylstra's 3-pointer with 10:14 left in the first half were the first BYU points not scored by Haws.
Haws finished with 15 points in the half as the Seminoles took a 44-35 lead.
Florida State shot 60 percent (15 for 25) in the first half and forced BYU into eight turnovers that the Seminoles turned into 13 points.