The No. 21 Florida Gators were the first top-10 defense the Seminoles played this season, and early on, it showed.
FSU struggled to get anything going toward the basket. They committed unforced turnovers. And they ended up hoisting a bevy of bad shots. The bench helped out with Braian Angola-Rodas giving the ‘Noles a nice lift, but those good moments were too seldom.
But with the Gators leading 32-29 late in the 1st half, FSU finally began to find a little rhythm. They scored seven straight, and had the chance to head into the locker room up six or seven, but a lapse by freshman Trent Forrest gave UF an easy layup entering intermission.
However, FSU came out in the 2nd half and did a fantastic job of moving the Gators defense side to side, before exploiting gaps when they inevitably arose. Dwayne Bacon led Florida State on an 18-6 run to take over the game.
These things never end quietly, though, and Florida was able to do enough down the stretch to at least make things interesting. They cut the lead to three on a couple of occasions, but then couldn’t get the necessary stops.
Freshman Jonathan Isaac had a quiet game after missing the last three contests with his hip flexor injury, but he was able to ice it from the free throw line.
FSU won 83-78 to improve to 10-1 on the season. The Seminoles picked up a much-needed signature win and should be ranked when the new polls are released.
Bacon had a terrific game with 24 points, seemingly getting to the rim whenever FSU really needed a bucket. Terance Mann had what may have been his best game as a Seminole, notching a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds on a day when it was a rock fight in the paint.
The whole team deserves the game ball, as the Gator offense is fueled by cleaning up their own misses, and FSU just out toughed them on the inside, winning the rebounding battle on both ends of the floor.
After playing four games in eight days, the ‘Noles now get a needed rest before traveling to Sunrise, FL to face Manhattan next Saturday.