USA TODAY Sports
Cue the meltdown?
FSU and Auburn are two variations on a theme. Both force turnovers, and both make a living on the offensive glass. So it was an easy call to identify TO% and OR% as keys to the game. And sure enough, FSU came up short in both. The Noles turned the ball over on 26% of their possessions, while Auburn actually controlled the ball very well and came in at a season low 12%. On the offensive glass, FSU only grabbed 26%, while Auburn got 34%. It was the lowest figure for Auburn in the previous six games, but it was enough.
What I hadn't counted on were the free throws. FSU - the best FT shooting team in the ACC - made just 3-11 in the first half and 7-15 for the game. Auburn made 28-41 (!). Yes, many of those free throws came when FSU was fouling late in the game, but the margin was considerable before that.
The Noles actually started the game nicely and built a 12 point first half lead. But turnovers and missed free throws allowed Auburn to cut it to one at the break. In the second half FSU started missing 3s (4-17 in the half) and committed 11 turnovers.
Michael Snaer had another excellent all around game with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists (but 6 turnovers). Terry Whisnant scored 16 points, and the rest of the team pretty much layed an egg. Montay Brandon had four turnovers. Robert Gilchrist was 0-4 from the line. Okaro White and Terrance Shannon were both in foul trouble all night. And Devon Bookert made just 2-7 3s. About the only other good news is that Ian Miller finally returned from his foot injury.
Now, for the 3rd straight season, FSU enters conference play on a sour note. The difference is that the defense isn't good enough to overcome carelessness on offense.
Can they turn it around? Of course. Will they? That's the question. They don't have much time to figure it out as the FSU ACC schedule is front loaded with potential losses. It starts on Saturday at Clemson.