The concern raised in the game preview was the fear that this Florida State team would come out unfocused, facing their second straight over-matched opponent. And for the first 15 minutes, it certainly looked that way. Jacksonville wasn't afraid to run with FSU, and by the first media timeout the Dolphins led 16-8.
Florida State had three early turnovers, and the Noles weren't getting back in transition quickly enough to keep Jacksonville from getting whatever they wanted.
What they wanted was the ball in the hands of their all-conference guard Kori Babineaux. He put on a clinic, scoring 13 points in the first 10 minutes. Coach Hamilton was shuffling the lineup, trying to find someone who could slow him down. It resulted in FSU struggling to get stops. And without the stops, the Seminoles had a hard time getting into their transition offense.
"Our defensive techniques are not good right now and leave a lot to be desired. Our youngsters are losing sight and the fundamentals that we are trying to work on are not as easy to accomplish this early in the season for some of our guys" Hamilton summarized when addressing the defensive issues that the Seminoles faced throughout the game..
Jacksonville fell back into a zone, which gave FSU fits. Late in the half, Ham began screening the zone more to create movement, and the Noles were able to make a couple of runs, fueled largely by Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon, who combined for 23 first half points.
At the half, FSU came back to hold a slim 44-38 lead.
The second half was a different game. The Noles used a 12-2 run to bust the game open, and from there Jacksonville could never cut the lead back to single digits.
Babineaux continued to score, finishing with 31, and for stretches it didn't seem to matter what FSU's defense did. Even well defended, JU kept knocking down shots. It was one of those nights.
The great news is that even on one of "those nights", Florida State had enough offensive firepower to easily put the game away.
FSU won 98-79.
Dwayne Bacon led FSU with 27 points and nine rebounds, showing off his flare with several dramatic plays.
Malik Beasley had 21 points, joining Bacon with 20+ in their first two career games. They're the first Seminoles to accomplish that feat since Tat Hunter in 1986.
On the impressive starts from the freshmen phenoms, Hamilton sang their praises, saying "There's no doubt they are making major contributions and I think they play the game the right way."
XRM had 13 points and 5 assists, most of which came in the 2nd half. Boris Bojanovsky finished with 10 points, while adding four blocked shots.
The season gets a lot more competitive as FSU heads to the Virgin Islands, where they'll face a very good Hofstra team on Friday.