Following the North Florida game Leonard Hamilton said that he needed to tighten up the rotation for this team to be successful. Playing too many players was killing the momentum. Two games later and he was back to his tinkering ways. The Noles led 19-12 and Ham opened up the bench. In all, 11 guys played in the first half, and without any continuity the Mercer Bears were able to stick around and go into halftime tied. Coach Hamilton tightened things up in the second, but poor free throw shooting and sloppy turnovers doomed the Noles. Trailing by two in the final minutes the Noles forced three straight stops, but only converted those three possessions into a single point. In the end, FSU had to start fouling, and the game was over.
The Seminoles now find themselves in danger of watching their season unravel. A great Coaches vs Cancer tournament has been erased by sloppy home losses to lesser teams.
FSU's defense was not the culprit as it had been in their first two losses. The Noles limited Mercer to just 61 points in 64 possessions,with four of those points coming on late free throws when the Noles were just fouling. Instead, the Noles' offense was to blame. FSU made 16-26 free throws and committed turnovers on 28% of their possessions. Michael Snaer had four of those turnovers, and Montay Brandon and Terrance Shannon each committed three. But worse than that the post became a black hole. On teams which struggle to create their own shots it's essential to play inside out in order to get good looks for the guards. But Shannon and Kiel Turpin never looked to involve their teammates, and instead turned every touch into a (often forced) shot. This absolutely has to be addressed for the Noles offense to move forward.
Okaro White was the only Seminole in double figures (14) and also led the team in rebounding (6).
Now the Noles have to get ready for Florida on Wednesday, a team which has won their games by an average margin of 25 points.