TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) —Mfiondu Kabengele knew he was ready to make the jump from reserve to a major contributor this season.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore had a career night Monday, even doing it while coming off the bench.
Kabengele scored a career-high 18 points in 19 minutes as No. 14 Florida State warmed up after a seven-day layoff to put away Canisius 93-61 on Monday night. The nephew of former NBA All-Star center Dikembe Mutombo, Kabengele shot 6 of 12 from the floor and added six rebounds.
“Fi is a monster,” Florida State guard M.J. Walker said. “Those plays like that, his potential is crazy. It gave us momentum.”
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Walker and Terance Mann added 12 points for Florida State, which opened 3-0 for a third straight season.
But the Seminoles needed Kabengele in the worst way as Canisius (1-1) closed the deficit in the second half. The Golden Griffins trailed most of the game but cut the lead to 47-41 with 14:12 left. Kabengele then came in the game and scored seven points in less than two minutes to put the Seminoles back up 58-41 with 12 minutes to go.
“My role on the team is to bring energy, crash the glass and be a post scorer,” Kabengele said. “So when I felt like we were playing very sluggish, I knew that I was going to come in eventually. So I mentally prepared myself. Make sure you provide energy so the guys can feed off it.”
Malik Johnson scored 20 points for Canisius (1-1), which had 13 first-half turnovers and finished the night with 19.
Takal Molson and Isaiah Reese added 15 points apiece for Canisius, which shot 22 of 52 (42.3 percent). Canisius had multiple players in foul trouble and looked down the bench for help in the second half, turning to seldom-used Dantai St. Louis for 27 minutes.
“(He) played three total minutes last season,” Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “And he gave us great effort. But that’s outside of your comfort zone.”
Scott Hitchon was ejected for a flagrant foul after pushing Mann to the floor with 13:10 left in the game. Hitchon started but was in foul trouble and didn’t have a point or a rebound.
The Seminoles shot 31 of 59 (52.5 percent) and also made 7 of 14 3-pointers.
Florida State scored 51 bench points, led by Koumadje’s 18 and Devin Vassell‘s 10 points. All 11 Seminoles who played in the game scored. The win-by-committee approach that Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton favors was on full display as the team’s leading scorer through two games, P.J. Savoy, took just two shots and had two points in 22 minutes.
“The guys who came in the game for them appeared to be jumping on a train or a bus that was already moving,” Witherspoon said. “Whoosh. Full-speed intensity.”
The Seminoles have recorded three wins by double figures but the they are doing it without their leading scorer from last season, Phil Cofer. The senior forward suffered a preseason injury to his right foot and must wear a walking boot. He’s not ready to return to practice, Hamilton said.
“I don’t think he’s anywhere close to being ready to play,” Hamilton said.
Canisius: The Golden Griffins hung tough with Florida State for long stretches of the game but didn’t have the depth. Johnson, Takal Molson (15 points) and Isaiah Reese (15 points) had 50 of Canisius’ 61 points.
Florida State: The Seminoles looked good after a seven-day layoff, easily winning for the 33rd time in 35 home games since November 2016. The Canisius game is the first of five games in a 10-day stretch.
Canisius travels to Orlando to face Villanova as the Golden Griffins continue play in the AdvoCare Invitational.
Florida State continues play in the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday against UAB in Orlando.