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Takeaways from FSU basketball’s strong finish to beat Colorado State

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The Seminoles leave Jamaica with a perfect record.

NCAA Basketball: George Washington at Florida State
FSU junior Terance Mann
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t always pretty and it was hardly an assured victory at the midpoint of the second half, but a late rally kept the Florida State basketball team undefeated as the ’Noles disposed of the Colorado State Rams 90-73.

What got FSU into trouble after opening up an 11-point halftime lead and what made the difference down the stretch? Let’s take a look:

Above the Rim

  • FSU finished strong from the free throw line against Colorado State to not make this stat look as bad, but it would appear that, once again, the Seminoles will struggle at times from the charity stripe. After taking just four free throws in the season opener against George Washington, FSU finished its two games in Jamaica with a 55.8% mark from the line (29-52). The ’Noles did better in drawing fouls this weekend. Now they must take advantage of the scoring opportunities.
  • On defense, FSU’s energetic chaos again disrupted what the Rams were able to accomplish defensively as CSU committed 22 turnovers. Now, the results were not as consistent as they were on Friday. The Rams hit 43.3% of their shots, averaged .924 points per possession and created open shots by finding gaps in the Seminoles’ defense. Still, execution is expected to ramp up as the season carries on and for the results to be as successful as they have been through the first three games is a promising sign.
  • After two early games that were well in hand midway through the second half, Sunday’s game provided an early glimpse at the team’s resiliency. The early returns were promising. After leading by 11 at the half, FSU found itself trailing by two just 4:19 into the second half. The Seminoles and Rams battled back and forth over the ensuing six minutes. Leading 60-58 with 10:43 left, the ’Noles put together an impressive 16-2 run over the next 4:15, effectively icing the game as CSU never cut the deficit to less than nine points the rest of the way. It was hardly an ACC caliber opponent on Sunday, but FSU handing its first real adversity of the young season so well against Colorado State can only be viewed as a promising sign.

Court Level

  • Sunday’s game lent a glimpse at the ceiling of true freshman stud MJ Walker. Walker, who was held scoreless in Friday’s win over Fordham, saw an increase in his playing time after Savoy left the game and he took full advantage. Walker hit five of his first six three pointers and finished with a career high 22 points. His game was not without mistakes (he fouled out after 27 minutes of play) but Walker, who could very well become a starter as the season progresses, showed Sunday the offensive skill that made him a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school.
  • Terance Mann’s ability to finish at the rim is the best on this year’s FSU squad. He has also shown confidence in taking mid-range jumpers. That same confidence has not yet extended to his perimeter shooting. On multiple occasions against the Rams, Mann passed up a wide-open jumper, instead choosing to drive to the basket. Nothing about this is inherently bad, but Mann must take these outside shots at least on occasion to keep defenders honest. A scouting report on him that he will drive far more than take the three led to an easy charge drawn on him and multiple contested shots at the rim against CSU. This will continue to be the case all season long unless Mann is able to demonstrate a willingness to let it rip at times.
  • After two unexpected offensively efficient performances from Phil Cofer to start the season, the matchup with Colorado State brought Cofer crashing back down to earth. The senior forward finished Sunday’s game with six points on 3-8 shooting with many of his misses coming on point-blank shots at the rim. Cofer was not expected to be an offensive weapon for the Seminoles this season and likely will not be required to be with so many other options. As such, Cofer’s contributions should come in him filling the duties he was expected to coming into the season: rebounding, defense and leadership, something Leonard Hamilton praised him for after FSU’s season opener.

Looking Ahead

The Seminoles return to Tallahassee for a pair of Thanksgiving week games. The first of these is Wednesday evening against Kennesaw State.