The good: Florida State got back in the win column. The bad: the 'Noles struggled to pull away from a bumbling Boston College team. The ugly: this game.
The Seminoles (13-7, 3-5) captured a must-win on the road in Chestnut Hill on Tuesday night, topping a BC team (7-13, 0-7) occupying the cellar of the ACC standings by a 72-62 score. Neither team looked terribly interested in winning this one, as the Eagles seemed to be asking FSU to pull away throughout much of the second half, with the 'Noles repeatedly declining. The teams registered 17 turnovers apiece, while Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Devon Bookert were a combined 3-19 from the floor. BC reciprocated by making just 2-9 from the free throw line, while inexplicably making everything from 18 feet.
But it wasn't all bad for the 'Noles, who absolutely dominated Boston College on the glass, out-rebounding BC 46-28. That included 16 offensive boards, off of which FSU garnered 13 second-chance points. After registering just three rebounds in 30 minutes against Pittsburgh, Dwayne Bacon led the way, pulling down a career-high 14 boards. The only time the 'Noles have snagged more than 46 rebounds this season was when they grabbed 49 in a loss at Iowa-- although that included overtime. And while Boston College isn't the greatest measuring stick, the 'Noles, for the most part, went to the glass with hunger and aggression.
Florida State also shared the ball quite well, even if that too often meant giving it to BC. The Seminoles had 17 assists on 23 field goals, tying a season high for assist-to-field-goal percentage (FSU also had 17 dishes for 23 buckets against Southeastern Louisiana). And the 'Noles were better from the line than they've been all year, making 21-25, a season-high average of 84%.
Individually, Jarquez Smith was a bright spot for the 'Noles, once again showing that, in Phil Cofer's absence, he's the most adept big man at finding space against zone defenses. He scored a season-high 13 points, and the rest of his line really states his case for increased playing time: in 27 minutes, along with the aforementioned 13 points on 5-9 shooting, he hauled in 9 rebounds, blocked five shots (the only 'Nole to register a block), and came up with a pair of steals. He was also a perfect 3-3 from the free-throw line.
FSU once again displayed a lack of killer instinct down the stretch, when BC continually invited a massacre, and while I was a bit mystified, in the moment, about why the 'Noles didn't take some air out of the ball late, I can't fault their decision to keep running at the Eagles, playing their up-tempo game and going for the win more so than conservatively sitting back and hoping to avoid the loss (like they did at NC State).
The biggest overall takeaway from this game, despite how tough it was to watch for extended stretches, is actually positive. And that is that FSU once again won when it needed to do so. Yes, the home loss to Pitt still hurts. But when their backs are against the proverbial wall, these 'Noles answer time and again. This was a gritty team win, that this team had to have, in a place where the Seminoles have played poorly in the past. As a result, FSU is set up well for its noon Saturday showdown against Clemson in Tallahassee. And winning when losing isn't an option could play out very well should these 'Noles earn the NCAA Tourney bid for which they strive.