It started out like Seminoles fans hoped it wouldn't but expected it to: pressure from Alabama and lots of early turnovers. But, the defense played strong and Florida State started to get into a rhythm in the late first half when Coach Leonard Hamilton switched to a three guard lineup: Kitchen, Dulkys and Snaer. This change placed more ball handlers on the court, allowing to break the press in a more efficient manner. Despite the adjustment, the Seminoles continued to have a significant size advantage over the smaller Alabama team.
Once the Seminoles settled down, the passing was crisp, the movement off the ball was active and the shots were falling. Deividas Dulkys went 3-6 from behind the arc and hit key baskets and was begging for the ball down the stretch. He had a lot of empty looks at the basket as Alabama attempted to protect the paint as the likes of Kitchen and Snaer penetrated the defense. Dulkys and Singleton hit the key baskets that allowed the Seminoles to go on an early run in the second half from which Alabama couldn't recover.
Again, you can see the stair case pattern of scoring in the first half. The horizontal periods occurred during turnover heavy periods. The defense kept Alabama's guards in check until Florida State got it's offense rolling. Alabama didn't have a single player in double digit scoring, which is outstanding considering three of their players typically average double digits. The Seminoles only had five recorded blocks, but the big guys down low altered numerous shots through the night. They also out rebounded Alabama 33-27 with 20 defensive rebounds. And as the defense has done all year, it limited Alabama's FG%, shooting only 40% from the floor and 40% from the 3 point line. The Seminoles also showed a good amount of full court pressure. The Crimson tide had an efficiency of 96.2 on 53 possessions, their lowest output of the year.
As you can see from the chart above, it took some time for the Seminoles to get settled and start scoring points. Derwin Kitchen played 35 minutes and scored 8 points. His greatest contribution to the game was his 6 assists with only 1 turnover. There were a couple of questionable decisions in the first half that resulted in turnovers, but overall it was a much improved game. It helped that Dulkys was getting open looks and hitting his shots. Kitchen was patient on offense and found the open man, particularly in the second half. Chris Singleton also had a nice game, playing 34 minutes and scoring 14 points. He was very active on the defensive end has really started to develop into a nice player this year.
Michael Snaer had an outstanding game and the stat sheet will not show his contribution to the game. He played 26 minutes and only scored 4 points with 2 assists and 1 turnover. He played an outstanding game on the defensive end and really showed his commitment to that end of the floor. He also passed the ball extremely well tonight and helped the offense settle in against the pressure from Alabama. He should continue to get more minutes each week. It's unlikely that FSU will use a three guard line up regularly in ACC play, but it is certainly a nice option to go to.
Alabi played limited minutes, scoring 10 points in 20 minutes with 4 blocks and 4 rebounds. He went 4-4 from the line and has only missed one free throw all year. Like the game against Iona, Alabama collapsed hard on Alabi as soon as he got the ball. He still needs to work on establishing his position better in the paint and not bring the ball so low as he makes his turn to the basket. Defensively he was a monster, as expected.
Here is the four factors evaluation for the game:
The turnover percentage is still too high, but significantly improved. The Seminoles did significantly better in the second half and is likely why it is elevated. The goal should be to have a TO% of less than 20% every night. The shooting was much better and the Seminoles had an offensive efficiency of 113.2. This reflects the great shooting night in a very slow paced game. Additionally, the Seminoles had an assist on 75% of their baskets, reflecting the good ball movement and unselfish play.
This was a good win for the Seminoles. There is still a long way to go in terms of development and tightening up the offense. Fortunately, we were wrong here at Tomahawk Nation with our prediction (Alabama 68 FSU 63). They limited Alabama's opportunities off the turnovers and started to shoot the ball well. The defense continues to lead the way.
The Seminoles now look to Marquette who has played a great tournament thus far, beating Xavier and #15 Michigan. If the Seminoles of the second half show up, it should be a great game. Tune in Sunday night at 7:30pm EST for tip off. The game will be televised on ESPN2.