We knew this was going to be an ugly game. Manhattan led the nation in both fouls committed, and fouls drawn last year, and their never ending pressure can make things hectic. Sure enough, turnover problems slowed FSU down early, and a hot shooting Manhattan was able to open a 24-16 lead with seven minutes left in the half. But from there Florida State figured things out. The Noles went on a 21-7 run to end the half.
The second half was more of the same with the Noles scoring the first six points. Manhattan made their expected run, but could never get the game closer than five, and FSU won going away, 81-66. The game was marked by lots of fouls and free throws, with Manhattan shooting 36 freebies, and FSU shooting 44.
Seminole fans should be thrilled with the newcomers, as they brought much needed energy to the game. Dayshawn Watkins played solid defense and led the team with three steals. Robbie Berwick was solid in all phases, scoring 11, and Phil Cofer had four points and six rebounds before leaving the game late with what was reported as a cramp in his hamstring. The long awaited debut by freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes failed to happen however, as he was on the bench in sweats and did not warm up. We should learn more after the game.
Besides Berwick, five other Noles scored in double figures. Aaron Thomas led the way with a quiet 14, Jarquez Smith had 13 and six rebounds, Kiel Turpin had 13, Montay Brandon added 12, and Devon Bookert had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The FSU defense was solid, but was once again hampered by poor defensive rebounding. Without that (and without 9 Manhattan points off of long bank shots) this would have been a blowout.
The Noles now move on to Northeastern on Tuesday night. Northeastern returned all five starters from a team which FSU beat 62-60 last year.