It’s no fault of the players, but the first half of this game doesn’t deserve a write-up. Twenty-eight fouls. Thirty-eight free throws. Ten players with at least two fouls.
In the pre-season ACC Coaches Round Table on ESPN, Leonard Hamilton was the one coach who didn’t toe the party line. He called out the NCAA for constantly tweaking the rules for how players are allowed to defend. And tonight we saw the results.
It was a mess, and barely watchable.
Luckily, in the 2nd half, a basketball game broke out.
For whatever reason things like boxing out and playing defense were no longer fouls, and the game took on the type of flowing tempo that makes the sport enjoyable to watch.
And the FSU players took advantage. After trailing 33-31 at the break, the ‘Noles scored on their first seven possessions of the 2nd half. Coupled with an energetic defense that began trapping for the first time all season, the 2-point deficit quickly turned into an eight point advantage.
Minnesota tried to stem the flow by calling timeouts and bringing in new players, but the blood was in the water.
The lead reached double digits, and then it was over. The ‘Noles would end up leading by 19 with under four minutes to play.
Some prevent offense by FSU and a number of 3s by Minnesota made the final score appear more competitive than the game.
When the buzzer sounded, it was FSU 75-67.
Dwayne Bacon (surprise) led FSU in scoring, dropping 18 to go along with five rebounds. Jonathan Isaac had his second double double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Michael Ojo, who continues to provide quality production, scored Florida State’s first five points on his way to 12 for the game.
The FSU defense played with great effort all game, and if not for the garbage time flurry would have played their first complete game of the season. They held Amir Coffey - Minnesota’s leading scorer - to a season low seven points on 3-10 shooting. The mark of a good Leonard Hamilton defense is 2-pt%, and tonight the Gophers shot just 32% from inside the arc.
Florida State is now 6-1 on the season, and is off until Sunday when they travel to play last year’s NIT champion, George Washington.