After yesterday’s frustrating loss to Temple, it was easy to see this game going sideways. Illinois smartly slowed the tempo down to a crawl, and in the 2nd half the ‘Noles couldn’t seem to find their rhythm.
At the under-12 timeout, the Illini led 44-42, and the game seemed very much in doubt.
And that’s exactly when FSU made their big run. Just like the first four games of the season, this one was close for 30 minutes, and then the Seminole depth and athleticism took over down the stretch as the opponent wore out.
FSU went on a 24-7 run in crunch time, putting the game out of reach in the final minutes.
The final was 72-61. FSU is now 5-1.
Illinois did everything they could do to slow this game down, and it ended up as just a 63 possession game. They delayed on inbounds passes when the clock was running, they ran deep into the shot clock before attempting to run offense, and when they grabbed offensive rebounds they typically kicked it out and ran more clock.
It was an old school grinder, and if there is a positive to take away from the New York trip, it is that Florida State looked comfortable playing at a pace not of their making.
Without the usual array of layups and dunks in transition, the ‘Noles worked the defense to find good shots. They ended up making 9-15 3s, and turning the ball over on just 14% of their possessions.
Dwayne Bacon led FSU with 17 points, and has now made 48% of his 3s on the year. Jonathan Isaac scored 15 points to go along with seven rebounds. His 3-4 performance from the arc bumped his season 3pt% to 50%.
CJ Walker and Trent Forrest both played their best games as Seminoles. Walker made both his 3s and finished with a career best 13 points and four boards. Forrest had seven points, five rebounds, two assists, and played lock down defense with four steals. Both Walker and Forrest were in the game when FSU closed it out.
Chris Koumadje came off the bench and blocked four shots, spurring on an FSU defense which held Illinois below a point per possession despite the Illini making 18-21 free throws.
Now the Seminoles return home to face another Big Ten team. FSU hosts Minnesota Monday night in the ACC/B1G Challenge.