Augustine Rubit added 12 points and Mychal Ammons had 11 points and 11 rebounds for South Alabama, which shot 9 of 15 from 3-point range.
Terry Whisnant and Montay Brandon had 11 points apiece for the Seminoles, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions. Senior guard Michael Snaer had 10 points at halftime but was held scoreless in the second half. He shot 2 of 11 in the game.
Terrance Shannon returned from a shoulder injury to score 10 points for Florida State. Shannon played in just seven games last season after having season-ending surgery in November.
FSU, which had 17 turnovers and just nine assists, had won 11 straight season openers. The Seminoles struggled in the second half, shooting just 10 of 28.
One of the night's highlights was a pregame ceremony when Florida State raised its championship banner. But six seniors are gone from that team, and the veterans and newcomers alike struggled to mesh.