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Observations from FSU's OT loss to Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

In a back-and-forth affair, the 'Noles just didn't play well enough to win on the road against the Hawkeyes.

XRM drives to the hoop Wednesday night vs. Iowa
XRM drives to the hoop Wednesday night vs. Iowa
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Some notes from the Seminoles' trip to Iowa City:

1. Malik Beasley is the real deal.

The freshman combo guard continues to impress, as he scored 20 points, including 14 in the 2nd half and OT. He also added 8 rebounds. He still has a lot of work to do on the defensive end, as he was forced to sit with foul trouble and some positioning issues, but I don't think effort is a problem with Beasley. Which leads me to...

2. Dwayne Bacon needs to be a two-way player.

The ballyhooed freshman from Oak Hill Academy is obviously a terrific talent, but he's killing Florida State on the defensive end. Iowa's Peter Jok scored a career-high 24 points Wednesday night, with Bacon as his primary defender. Bacon was slow getting back on defense, and he gave too much cushion, especially when the Hawkeyes ran Jok off screens (trailing shooters is an area where all the younger perimeter defenders need work). Bacon realizes he isn't good defensively, and he says all the right things, but he still hasn't bought in, and it's really hurting the Seminoles. Far too often, Boris Bojanovsky was left to chase Bacon's man, leaving the basket unattended.

Usually, Bacon makes up for his porous defense with great offense, but he only scored 11 points, including just two points in the final 25 minutes, and he shot an abysmal 5-16 from the field.

3. Florida State should be more aggressive offensively.

The Seminoles shot well from the FT line (80%), but they only had 15 attempts in a 45-minute game. Meanwhile, Iowa shot a lower percentage (73%), but they got to the line 11 more times, making seven more free throws (19-12). In a three-point game, that was the difference.

The 'Noles are a very athletic team. They need to use that to their advantage by getting to the rim, instead of settling for passes around the perimeter, leading to jump shots. They were just 5-23 behind the arc Wednesday, with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Devon Bookert, and Bacon combining to miss 14 of 17 3-point shots. XRM continues to struggle with his outside shot, as he's only shooting 15% (4-26) from outside on the young season.

If Florida State comes in with an aggressive mindset every night, they'll get more free throws, leading to more points. It'll also force the defense to pack the inside, allowing for better perimeter looks.

4. The Seminoles have to attack the glass on both ends.

Iowa only grabbed two offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. They added ten more in the final 25 minutes. At one point, Florida State was grabbing over 90% of Iowa's misses. By the end of the game, the Hawkeyes had recovered 29% of their missed shots.

The 'Noles need to stay relentless on the defensive glass. FSU was much better on the offensive end, however, snatching 39% of their misses. Unfortunately, they really didn't do much with those chances, especially early, as they only had four second-chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds in the first half. Many of the looks were point-blank attempts, which would've allowed the Seminoles to stretch the lead to double-digits and most likely hold on for the win.

5. Good and bad with the turnovers.

The good: Florida State had more assists (16) than turnovers (14).

The bad: Over the years, the Seminoles have struggled with live-ball turnovers and that was the case again on Wednesday. Of FSU's 14 turnovers, nine were steals, helping Iowa to score 19 points off turnovers (the Hawkeyes were +9 in that category).

The 'Noles did a pretty good job protecting the ball in the first half, but they had some sloppy turnovers in crunch time, and Fran McCaffery's team made them pay. Entering the game, XRM had 34 assists and only 14 turnovers (2.43 AST/TO ratio). On Wednesday, the point guard had five assists, but he also committed five turnovers.

6. Montay Brandon still isn't himself.

The senior wing missed all the exhibition games and the season opener with a groin injury. In the five games he's played, he's only scored 28 points, including four in the loss to Iowa. FSU needs Brandon as a slasher on offense, especially when teams decide to play zone defense vs. the Noles. He also is Florida State's best defender when healthy.

7. Bojo had a very nice game down low.

I have to admit that I get frustrated with the big fella from time-to-time (every game), but he finished with a double-double tonight (11 PTS, 11 REB), including six offensive rebounds. He also added three assists and zero turnovers. If Florida State can get consistent play from their senior center, it'll go a long way in allowing this team to reach its goal of getting back to the NCAA Tournament.

8. Will someone from FSU's bench step up?

Leonard Hamilton gave 11 Seminoles playing time in Wednesday's loss to Iowa. However, at this point in the season, only six players are solid contributors (the starters and Bookert). Someone (it'd be nice if it were more than one player) from the group of Jarquez Smith, Phil Cofer, Benji Bell, and Terance Mann (I didn't include Chris Koumadje because he's very raw) need to become dependable, so FSU will have functional depth during ACC play.

9. Don't lose hope.

Obviously, it was a disappointing loss for Florida State in Iowa City (especially as it allowed the Big 10 to retain bragging rights over the ACC for another season), but don't give up on this team. Coach Ham has a very young squad, so you can expect peaks and valleys. In the end, FSU covered the spread on the road against a good Iowa team on a night in which Florida State struggled offensively and defensively. That should serve to give 'Nole fans hope, as the Seminoles are able to compete when they don't have their best stuff, and there's plenty of room for growth.

The Noles need to bounce-back this weekend, as they get another chance for a quality win, with a stern test vs. VCU in Atlanta on Sunday at 2 pm on ESPNU.