The game plan was to take the ACC’s best player out of the action. The Wolfpack play with the ball in Dennis Smith Jr.’s hands, and FSU wasn’t going to allow that to happen. Throughout the game the ‘Noles doubled him as far as 35’ from the basket, forcing him to give up the ball. In the first half he was scoreless. In the 2nd half he scored eight. It was only the 2nd time this year he’s been held to single digits. And no one else for NC State could do enough the keep the game close.
Florida State maintained a double-digit lead for the final 30 minutes of the game. This one was never contested as the ‘Noles won 95-71.
That’s not to say that everything was perfect. NC State’s defense is so porous that it seemed to rattle FSU. Instead of making the right passes and knocking down the inevitably open shots, the ‘Noles tried to hit home runs. At least in the first half. In the 2nd, they seemed more focused. And without a 13-3 run that NC State put on the bench crew, the final outcome would have been even more lopsided.
Florida State did dominate the glass, rebounding over 50% of their own misses.
Even though FSU’s offense looked rushed and unfocused at times, the defense was on point. They had a gameplan that was unique to this opponent, and they put it into play with great effort and solid execution. Xavier Rathan-Mayes disrupted Smith all night, and the bigs were on time with their help.
It was the calling card of vintage Leonard Hamilton teams. No matter what the offense did, the defense kept them in games. The difference is that he also has one of the nation’s best offenses at his disposal, and so it was a blowout.
Florida State is now 21-4 (9-3).
Jonathan Isaac scored 17 of his game high 21 in the first half, and added seven rebounds. Dwayne Bacon had an efficient 19 points and nine rebounds. Michael Ojo had 11 points and six boards. Phil Cofer, XRM, and Terance Mann all had eight points, and Mann also grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Florida State now goes back on the road, starting with a trip to Notre Dame on Saturday.