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Basketball Observations: FSU rolls over the Green Wave

The Seminoles have won 22 of their last 24 games against non-conference opponents.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Florida State Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State men completed a perfect week by defeating an improved Tulane team 72-53 in Tampa.

Above the Rim:

  • Mid-December is a tricky time of year. Final exams are going on, the holidays are near, flu/cold season is in full swing, and schedules are all over the place. In short, there are a ton of distractions and breaks from routine—and routine is an athlete’s best friend. This is why you see so many upsets this time of year. So for FSU to go 3-0 on the week, regardless of competition, is a nice sign. To do it with a win at Florida and in a strange arena against a better than expected Tulane team, well that’s a really nice sign. Nine wins won’t get anyone in the NCAA Tourney, but the Seminoles are certainly ahead of where I expected them to be at this point in the season. Barring a complete disaster, 11-1 looks like it will be the worst case scenario heading into ACC play.
  • Non-basketball arenas often have weird sight lines and this one appeared to be no exception. Both teams were way off early, and other than Braian Angola, no one on either squad ever really seemed to get comfortable shooting. The two teams combined to shoot 47-117 (40.1%) from the field and just 17-32 from the FT line. In this game, that favored FSU as the Green Wave just didn’t have the skill set to break people down off the dribble and get to the rim. Why is this noteworthy? Because FSU’s next game is in another NHL arena.
  • FSU continues to get it done by committee, and that’s just how Leonard Hamilton likes things. KenPom has a feature where it assigns an “MVP” of the game, based on a variety of metrics. After playing perhaps his worst game as a Seminole a week or so ago against Rutgers, senior Braian Angola took home MVP honors for the second consecutive game. This was the first time all season the same guy was MVP in back-to-back games (there have been 5 different MVPs on the year). Nine different guys played 11 or more minutes and all nine registered points and multiple rebounds.
  • When Florida State gets active with their hands, creating deflections, steals, and just general havoc, they are difficult to beat. The defense turns into to offense and allows FSU to push pace and wear teams down, all while scoring easy buckets in transition. The Seminoles stole the ball on 12.3% of Tulane’s possessions, including several in a 4-minute stretch early in the second half to blow the game open. On the year, FSU creates steals on 11.7% of their opponents’ possessions, 22nd best in the nation.

Court Level:

  • As noted above, Braian Angola turned in his second straight impressive performance. Unfazed by the cavernous arena, Angola went 4-7 from three and was hot right from the start. More importantly, he tied for the lead with 8 rebounds, all of them on the defensive side. We figured the Rutgers game would be an aberration for the sweet-shooting senior, and indeed it appears to have been.
  • PJ Savoy has been in a big time slump from the perimeter, and didn’t even see action in FSU’s previous game (it was noted as a “coach’s decision”). Perhaps the game off served him well, as the junior hit 2-4 from deep and also chipped in a couple of rebounds.
  • Trent Forrest continued to display his all-around skill, dropping 12 points, 6 boards (5 offensive), 4 assists, and picking up 4 steals as well. Simply put, the sophomore from Chipley was everywhere. Which makes it worrisome to see him look woozy late in the game after getting hit in the head going up for a rebound. Fortunately, the Seminoles have 6 days before their next game, but don’t be surprised to see Forrest in concussion protocol this week. Hopefully it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
  • Freshman big man Ike Obiagu continues to impress on defense. Starting since Chris Koumadje went down with a foot injury a few weeks ago, Obiagu is a legit rim protector who alters far more shots (and passed-up shots) than just the ones he blocks. He is still a major work in progress on offense, but he has stepped up into his increased role nicely.

Looking Ahead:

The ‘Noles have the next five days off before traveling down to Sunrise, Florida to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Oklahoma State is 7-2, with seven wins over crappy teams and two losses to elite squads (which, for those who are curious, is terrible non-conference scheduling).