FSU needed to get through the non-conference schedule without further damage. Then the Noles promptly recorded more turnovers than points in the first half against a team that doesn't have scholarships (to be fair, Princeton is a really solid team, for an Ivy). The Noles scored 10 points in 33 first half possessions(0.30 per trip), and turned the ball over on 33% of their trips. Consider that a point for the bad guys.
But then FSU came out in the 2nd half with a completely different offensive game plan. They scrapped the elbow-extended screen game and went more with a dribble-drive motion offense. Michael Snaer, Ian Miller and Luke Loucks repeatedly got inside the defense and suddenly FSU looked like a team with a plan. In 28 2nd half possessions the Noles scored 37 points (1.32 per trip) and only turned the ball over 3 times (10.7%). FSU scored the final four points of regulation and forced overtime...
...and then the free throw woes kicked in. Bernard James missed the front end of a one-and-one to win it in the 1st overtime. Okaro White missed the front end of a one-and-one, Bernard James went 0-2 and Ian Miller chipped in with a miss in the 2nd overtime. And then Okaro White missed back-to-back in 3rd overtime that would have given FSU the lead. Princeton did enough down the stretch to escape with a 75-73 win, and FSU's season is now officially in trouble.
Losing a game like this is bad. It counts as 1.4 losses in the eyes of the RPI because it was at home. And there's only a small chance that Princeton will finish among the RPI top-100. FSU now has two ways to make the Tourney. They can get enough done in a weak ACC, or they can win their first ACC Tournament in program history. The latter is unlikely to happen, and the former means that the Seminoles probably need 11 ACC wins, with at least two of them coming from UNC, Duke and Virginia. And considering that this team just scored ten points in a half of basketball that doesn't look likely.
That's the glass half-empty tale.
The glass half-full tale shows that FSU has finally found a lineup. Xavier Gibson and Bernard James have a ton of talent between them, but they don't play well together. The 2nd half started with both of them on the floor, but quickly went to a rotation of 3 guards, Okaro White, and one of the bigs. And this is the lineup that made up 17 points in only 28 possessions. Ian Miller was 5-10 after the half and scored 17 points. Michael Snaer was 8-13 and scored 20. In 51 possessions FSU turned the ball over 5 times. That won't last, but for reference that turnover rate would lead the country and it wouldn't even be close.
Wednesday's game against Auburn will be telling. If FSU's new-found lineup in the 2nd half was a fluke, then say hello to the NIT. If it's for real, FSU will surprise a lot of people down the stretch. Either way the 2nd half lineup was extremely entertaining, and that's what fans have been clamoring for, right?