The Florida State men’s basketball team has still not played a true road game this season, but since Sunday’s contest against the George Washington Colonials took place less than two miles from the GW campus, this is as close to that as the ‘Noles have come. However, there wasn’t much of a hometown advantage for the Colonials— in fact, the largely empty stands may have made the Seminoles feel right at home, and they played like it in hammering George Washington by a 67-48 final score.
The Seminoles are the far more talented side, and they played like it, even though the crown jewel of that talent, transcendent freshman Jonathan Isaac, sat out with a hip flexor injury that doesn't appear to be too serious. Phil Cofer got the start in his stead, and the ‘Noles came together in the absence of their top rebounder. And it all started on the defensive end of the court.
Florida State finally benefitted from an officiating crew that largely swallowed its whistles and let both sides play— even if GW shot three times as many free throws as FSU (24-8). Still, this was a chaotic game early on (when it still was a game), with an extremely disruptive Seminole defense creating 10 steals and never really letting the Colonials look comfortable. At the heart of that were ‘Nole centers Michael Ojo, Christ Koumadje, and Jarquez Smith, who owned the paint, combining for six blocks—three of which came from Koumadje.
GW wanted no part of FSU inside, instead chucking numerous long-range shots, which saw them make just 4-23 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Florida State looked much improved from downtown, hitting on 8-22 from beyond the arc. The ‘Noles got a boost from PJ Savoy, who finally returned from a turf toe, and hit 2-4 threes, while Xavier Rathan-Mayes made 3-5 from deep.
XRM and Trent Forrest led the Seminoles with five assists each, and the former and CJ Walker were FSU’s top scorers, with 11 points apiece. It was a great night for the Florida State point guards, who wasted little time in leading the ‘Nole attack against 3-2 and 1-3-1 zones by deftly distributing the ball to the baseline on the attack. Rathan-Mayes also split the top FSU rebounding total with Dwayne Bacon, at six. Walker appears to have supplanted Forrest at the backup PG spot, which is a good thing for the Seminoles, as it frees Forrest up to use his size more on the wing and cutting to the basket.
Despite the rather sterile environment, FSU did well to fire itself up, playing with fantastic energy and holding GW to just 22.6% shooting and going 12-deep, despite Isaac’s absence. Frankly, this game was nowhere near as close as the score might suggest; the Colonials were in serious jeopardy of being doubled up well into garbage time.
Florida State fans have a lot to like about this performance. The ‘Noles did not mess around like they did in blowing a big lead to Temple in their only loss. They played hungry basketball, swarming and mixing it up while committing just 12 turnovers. Isaac should return soon, and these Seminoles look increasingly dynamic as ACC play nears.