The ‘Noles basketball team has had a healthy start to the season for the first time in years. Aside from PJ Savoy’s lingering turf toe, Phil Cofer was the only player on the roster who had missed a game. So it was a bit unsettling when it was announced minutes before the game that 5* freshman Jonathan Isaac was going to sit due to an injured hip flexor. Couple that with six newly minted stitches in Jarquez Smith’s chin, and FSU suddenly didn’t look that deep.
But any worries for all for naught. Florida State used a hounding defense to shut down George Washington from the tip, and the entire second half was played with at least a 15 point lead.
The ‘Noles face guarded Tyler Cavanaugh - the Colonials best player - trying to force a 4-on-4 game. And until garbage time, no other player was able to do much. FSU took a 35-19 lead into the break, and extended that to 56-25 before Coach Hamilton called in the end of the bench.
George Washington outscored the ‘Noles 23-11 down the stretch, but unlike earlier games this wasn’t a lack of focus. Rather is was the starters sitting while a walk-on and PJ Savoy got their first extended minutes of the season.
The final was 67-48, with FSU going scoreless in the final six minutes.
CJ Walker and Xavier Rathan-Mayes led FSU with 11 points each, while Dwayne Bacon chipped in 10. Seven players had at least four rebounds, and XRM and Trent Forrest both had five assists. Florida State somehow only attempted eight FTs on the game (24 for George Washington).
The real star of the game was Florida State’s defense. With 10 steals and six blocks, George Washington was never able to get much going. The rotations were crisp. The communication was clear. It’s only one game, but it is a positive sign.
FSU now has a quick turnaround, and hosts a horrible Southern Miss team on Tuesday night.