In what became the Scott Eatherton show, FSU showed what might be the difference between this year's and last year's team. Last year, FSU's porous defense couldn't get stops, and so when the offense wasn't flowing, they lost the game. South Alabama. Mercer. Auburn. All losses. The Noles had one of those games again today, but they walked away with the win.
Tied 60-60 in the waning seconds, Ian Miller drove left and took a nice fade-away for the win from 15'. He missed, but Devon Bookert - who sat out most of the 2nd half - grabbed the rebound and put up a teardrop in the same motion. Bottoms. FSU wins.
The first half of this game was ugly. The Noles seemed clearly affected by the emotional loss to Michigan, and came out flat and lethargic. Meanwhile Northeastern, a team three days removed from beating Georgetown, was inspired. If Leonard Hamilton wants to show this team what sort of effort he expects, he'll just turn on this film and show the other team. Northeastern was crisp, they were quick to the ball, they out-toughed FSU, and they took a 29-28 lead into the half.
In the 2nd the Seminoles looked much better. For the most part, the energy was there, but they ran into a new roadblock in that the Huskies couldn't miss. Scott Eatherton, a transfer from St. Francis (PA), completed his 3rd straight double-double (he better be named Player of the Tournament) with 21 points and 15 boards, schooling FSU's bigs on post moves.
But FSU kept grinding, and eventually built a 6-point lead with less than four minutes to play. NU then went on a 6-point run to tie it, but Montay Brandon saved FSU with the play of the game. Yes, Bookert's shot was huge, but for my money the game ball goes to Brandon. Tied 58-58 he drove, drew a double team, and kicked it out to Miller for a 15-footer. Miller missed, and NU's Scott Walker went up strong and grabbed the rebound. But Montay got one hand on the ball and ripped it free, and then layed it in for a 60-58 lead. NU made two free throws after a silly foul on the other end, and then came Bookert's shot.
Even with NU's hot 2nd half shooting, the Noles held the Huskies to 60 points on 66 possessions, and turned them over 19 times. FSU committed 9 turnovers.
The Noles are now 5-1 and could easily find themselves ranked when the polls are released tomorrow.
Aaron Thomas led FSU with 16 points. Ian Miller had an off shooting night and only scored 6, but he also recorded 6 teals. Robert Gilchrist had 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Brandon added 10 points and 5 boards.
Now FSU is off until Friday night, when they travel to Gainesville to take on the Gators.