Jamir Watkins scored 19 points and dished eight assists and Darin Green Jr. added 16 points to lead Florida State to an 83-75 victory over UNLV Monday night in the semifinals of the Sunshine Slam Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Cam Corhen scored 14 points and De’Ante Green added 10 points for Florida State (3-1), which shot 62.7 percent from the floor and 5-of-12 from 3-point range.
The Seminoles were coming off an 89-68 loss to in-state rival Florida on Friday. They’ll face the winner between No. 18 Colorado and Richmond in the tournament’s championship game Tuesday.
Dedan Thomas Jr., the preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year, finished with 13 points and team highs of six assists and six rebounds for UNLV (2-2). Kalib Boone led the Runnin’ Rebels with 15 points while Jalen Hill (13), Justin Webster (13) and Luis Rodriguez (12) also scored in double figures.
Behind a couple dunks by Cam’Ron Fletcher and Corhen following UNLV turnovers, Florida State jumped out to a 23-10 lead at the 10:43 mark of the first half.
The Rebels rallied to cut the deficit to 27-22 on a three-point play by 6-foot-11 Isaiah Cottrell. They closed to within 39-35 on a steal and two free throws by Hill. But the Seminoles went into halftime with 42-35 lead when Watkins banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Florida State, picked to finish 11th in the ACC preseason poll and coming off a 9-23 season, opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt capped by a steal and three-point play by Jalen Warley to go ahead 50-37.
The Seminoles twice led by 14 points before UNLV later went on a 9-0 run to cut it to 57-52 with 12:39 to go.
Darin Green snapped the Runnin’ Rebels scoring streak with a jumper to make it 59-52 and Corhen followed with a floater to put the Seminoles back up by nine. UNLV got as close as five points on a layup by Thomas with 8:40 remaining, but Florida State broke the game open with a 16-5 run, highlighted by a drive and tomahawk dunk by Watkins.