Well, that’s one way to boost your resume.
The Florida State basketball team, which entered as nine-point underdogs on the road, dominated in every phase, leading for 36 minutes and 33 seconds en route to a dominant 83-66 win at Florida, the ’Noles fourth straight over the Gators.
For the Seminoles, it was the highest-ranked team they have defeated since they knocked off No. 4 UNC in the ACC Tournament Championship in 2012. It’s also Florida’s biggest home loss as a ranked team in program history.
Above the Rim
- This game was always going to be a litmus test for the Seminoles. FSU has markedly held the talent advantage in each of its first six games this season, but that was not the case Monday. Florida’s roster is loaded with veteran depth and talented transfers. It’s the first, and likely only, time until conference play begins where the ’Noles were at a talent deficiency. In that regard, the Seminoles responded well, with a run in response to every attempted Florida rally throughout the evening. The massive stage and very hostile environment did not phase this team in the slightest. Not only did FSU look like the better team, it wasn’t particularly close.
- FSU was always going to need some luck in three-point lottery to stay competitive against the Gators. Safe to say UF did its part in this regard. Florida, which entered Monday hitting 46% of its 3s, fourth best in the country, was 6-25 from 3 (24%). Although some of this comes down to luck, some can also be attributed to the Seminoles’ stingy defense. FSU’s collective length disrupted Florida’s perimeter shooting on numerous occasions.
- That length also went a long way in disrupting Florida’s offense by creating turnovers. UF had one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation coming in and had committed no more than 11 turnovers in any regulation-length game so far this season. FSU had forced 11 turnovers by half, finishing the game with 17 while allowing just seven assists.
- To begin the second half, FSU switched to a zone defense, which gave the Gators fits. UF had a stretch of 9+ minutes where it was held without a field goal, finishing the game shooting 36.2% from the floor. Holding the Gators, the No. 1 scoring offense in the country, to .892 points per possession was far and away Florida State’s best defensive execution and effort of the season to date.
- From the charity stripe, the Seminoles finished 20-24 (83.3%) from the free throw line, their best percentage of the season. This after FSU was below 70% from the line in four of its last five games. Now, this is helped by the fact that the team’s worst free throw shooter by a wide margin, Ike Obiagu, didn’t take a free throw, but many other players who have been inconsistent hit some critical FTs. Trent Forrest, a 57.1% FT shooter on the year, went 5-6, Terance Mann was 3-4 and Braian Angola was 4-4.
- A win of this magnitude cannot be overstated. In his post-game press conference, head coach Leonard Hamilton made clear how important it was. With the victory, the Seminoles jumped from 41 to 24 in RPI and up to 29 in KenPom rankings. With such a weak out-of-conference slate, this was Florida State’s one chance to truly make a mark before ACC play kicks off and it took full advantage.
- Mfiondu Kabengele has been an unexpected sensation for the Seminoles so far this season, but his first matchup against a team with substantial talent served as a definite wake-up call. Kabengele tried many of the same post moves that worked against the likes of Fordham and Kennesaw State. Suffice it to say, they were not nearly as successful against the Gators. In 12 minutes of action, Kabengele, who came in averaging 11 points and six rebounds per game, was held scoreless on 0-6 shooting, had two rebounds and committed three fouls.
- Phil Cofer may be the biggest surprise on this year’s FSU team. Emerging as a competent perimeter shooter and post scorer early this season after his first healthy offseason in years, Cofer flashed a new aspect of his game against Florida. With Kabengele nearly entirely irrelevant and Obiagu’s minutes limited, Cofer’s inside presence as a rebounder made the difference Monday. Cofer’s 12 rebounds matched a career high and, paired with his 10 points, amounted to his first double-double since 2015 against Pitt, his freshman season. Of Cofer’s 12 boards, six of them were of the offensive variety. That told of a bigger storyline for the Seminoles, who rebounded 23 of their own 44 misses (52.3%). This in turn led to 24 second-chance points.
The FSU basketball twitter account provided a look inside the Seminoles’ locker room after the upset victory.
Feeling when you beat the 5th ranked team on their home court. pic.twitter.com/dOB4Ao7c2a— FSU Men's Hoops (@FSUHoops) December 5, 2017
Here’s Hamilton full post-game press conference where he discusses Cofer’s growth, FSU’s stellar defense rising to the test, and staying grounded with a quick turnaround.
Leonard Hamilton addresses the media after Florida State Seminoles Basketball’s blowout win at No. 5 Florida.Posted by TomahawkNation.com on Monday, December 4, 2017
Safe to say this game made a national impact. Here’s some college basketball experts weighing in on FSU’s runaway victory:
Florida State is now 7-0 after beating Florida -- and will be favored in each of its next five games. Chance to be 12-0 heading into ACC play, when they open at Duke and vs. North Carolina.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) December 5, 2017
Florida State sends a message with a convincing win over Florida in Gainesville. Noles are a bonafide sleeper in the ACC. Deep, quick, and versatile.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 5, 2017
Leonard Hamilton and Co. dominating a really talented Florida squad that can win the SEC. Would be a huge win for Florida State if they can hold on.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) December 5, 2017
Seminoles’ defense has been all over the place, and their length has given Florida fits all night. Really impressed with FSU. https://t.co/6xqf8Gc7NH— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) December 5, 2017
Florida State just beat Florida in Gainesville. By 17. Didn't see that one coming.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 5, 2017
FSU has little time to relish the huge victory. The Seminoles are next in action back at home Wednesday when they play host to a 1-6 Loyola (MD) team at 7 p.m.