Sometimes I'm an idiot. In the game preview I suggested that FSU couldn't match up with Alex Len. It wasn't that I expected Len to have a huge impact in the boxscore, but rather that continually drawing double teams would open up driving lanes and threes for everyone else.
It's one thing to doubt Leonard Hamilton's ability to teach kids the game plan. It's another thing altogether to doubt that there's any one player that he can't scheme against, even if the majority of resources he has to work with are young, inexperienced, and often out of position.
As expected, the Terps worked all game to get the ball to Alex Len in a variety of situations. And all game FSU's double team arrived before the ball. One step late, and Len can find the open man for the three. Two steps late and Len has a dunk. The rotations were crisp. The communication was perfect. And FSU dominated a good Terrapin offense.
Credit FSU's young bigs for outworking Maryland and staying in front of the post all night. And credit FSU's wings for beating the ball to the post. This was a 72 possession game, and was the worst Maryland offense of the year - and it's not even close.
The game began with the Terps coughing the ball up five times in their first ten possessions. But FSU couldn't make them pay. The game plan was to force the tempo and then to pressure Maryland's guards. But a quick long two isn't a good shot. And that's what FSU was settling for. Maryland got enough done to take a 12-point lead with 30 seconds left in the first half and Michael Snaer on the bench with foul trouble. The final play went to Ian Miller, who was cut off by his own teammates inexcusable decisions not to clear out, and he ended up forcing a 29' jumper. Which he made. Terps by 9 at the half.
The second half lead got pushed back to 12, and it seemed like it was just going to be one of those nights. Losing to a good team on the road is nothing to hang your head about.
Then Terry Whisnant drained a three. Michael Snaer made a three. Shannon scored. Miller scored and drew the foul. 43-42 Maryland, and FSU was charging.
Then neither team scored for over four minutes. FSU got good shots and missed. Terrance Shannon missed four straight free throws. Maryland missed shots. Maryland turned the ball over. It was ugly, ugly basketball.
Finally Okaro White had enough.
He scored 13 straight points for FSU. He was utterly dominant. There wasn't another player on the floor who could touch him. It wasn't just the 13 straight points - he was just as good on the other end. His rebounds caused the announcers to gush about his leaping ability. He blocked an athletic 7-1 player. Twice. It was inspired play.
Still, Maryland had a run left in them and took a 1-point lead with just over three minutes to play.
But to their dismay Okaro wasn't finished. Off of an Ian Miller missed three, Okaro White grabbed the offensive board, put it back up, got hacked, and made the bucket. He calmly made the free throw and went back to play defense. There, be blocked a shot and ran out for the dunk.
It was the most impressive 10 minute display of basketball since Al Thornton wore an FSU uniform.
Maryland would come back to make FSU fans nervous, but the Noles made the needed free throws and took home the win.
Okaro White finished with the ridiculous line of 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 blocks. Snaer had 15 and Ian Miller had 12.
The Noles are now 2-0 in the ACC and have yet to play at home. Next up in FSU's brutal opening stretch to ACC play is a home game vs North Carolina on Saturday.