After getting whatever they wanted offensively versus North Florida on Wednesday, today's game was more of a grind. South Florida went under just about every screen, daring the Noles to shoot 3s. Too often, especially early, FSU obliged. The first half was a grind, but luckily FSU's defense showed up. Against a team that thrives on the dribble-drive, Florida State regularly funneled drivers into the teeth of FSU's back line.
At halftime it was 34-28.
The second half began with more of the same, as both teams struggled to figure out the defense. USF was able to cut the lead to 44-42 with about 12 minutes left, but that's when FSU finally seemed to figure out the Bulls zone. With Kiel Turpin in the game, the USF center was forced to come out and guard to keep him from flashing the jump hook that has been so effective of late. With the center of the zone stretched out, this opened space for FSU to attack the baseline. Jarquez Smith did a great job, scoring eight points in 2 1/2 minutes, with almost all of them at the rim. This triggered a run by FSU into a double digit lead, and the Noles would outscore USF 31-20 down the stretch.
FSU won 75-62, getting their record (6-5) back into positive territory. For the 2nd straight game FSU had an assist rate north of 70%. It didn't lead to particularly effective offense this time, but it does show that the team is just going to have to operate differently without Aaron Thomas around.
Devon Bookert led all Noles with a career best 24 points on 4-7 3-pt shooting (the rest of the team was 1-10). Jarquez Smith scored 14 points and had six blocks. Kiel Turpin had 13 on 6-7 shooting, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes battled through turnover woes to finish with seven points, nine assists, and six rebounds.
FSU now heads back to a cleared out Tallahassee to host Stetson in a bizarre 2pm Monday tip.