As soon as the starters were announced, people began to sense that something was wrong. Devon Bookert - who has spent the season as the team's sixth man - was in the starting lineup in place of point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
It turned out that XRM was not playing, and this was a coaches decision. Until we find out more, there's no need to comment further, except that facing the No. 1 defense in the nation without your point guard and best shot creator is hardly ideal.
FSU had the opportunity to get off to a solid start, but three wide open 3s in the first four possessions all went wide. Florida State fell behind 15-4.
But before things could get out of control, the Noles made a nice 8-0 run to get back into the game. And that's how the rest of the half went. Louisville would pull away. The Noles would creep back to within a couple of possessions, and then it would start over again.
The Cardinals got the last say in the half, finishing on a 12-4 run to go up 41-27. It could have been single digit deficit had the Noles made free throws. They'd missed the front end of three 1-and-1s and made just 2-6 before the break.
The second half was more Louisville runs and more FSU missed free throws. Only this half lacked the offensive surges that kept the Noles somewhat close in the first 20 minutes.
In the end, Louisville was too much for the short-handed Noles. The final was 84-65.
Malik Beasley led FSU with 23 points on 10-16 shooting. Devon Bookert made 4-6 3s on his way to 18 points, and he also grabbed seven boards. Dwayne Bacon had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, though his scoring was inefficient. And four players had at least two steals: Bookert (3), Bacon (2), Beasley (2), and Montay Brandon (2).
There are a couple of ways to go from here. One, losing at Louisville as a double-digit underdog is nothing to be concerned about, especially without XRM. Florida State hosts No. 21 Pitt this weekend, and could get right back on track, and after that the schedule softens up quite a bit.
But the team could go another way if XRM is out for any length of time. Coach Hamilton has never been shy about maintaining the discipline on his teams, so I trust him to do what is right. But as fans, we're kind of in a holding pattern until we learn when X will be back. The team obviously struggled without him tonight (and Michael Ojo, Phil Cofer, Robbie Berwick, and Brandon Allen), but to be fair Louisville has the best defense in the nation and FSU easily could have struggled with a full roster. At least FSU now has 40 minutes of film to examine should X be out for a while, and use that film to build on where they were able to execute.