(12) Florida State (18-2, 6-1 ACC) defeated (2) Louisville (20-1, 6-1 ACC) 50-49 this afternoon in Louisville, KY.
Louisville is one of the few teams in America that features more raw talent than Florida State. The Cards boast seven 5* players and three players who were high 4*s. They have 10 total top 100 players. FSU only has nine active players on the roster (seven were top 100 players).
They have used all of that talent to great effect this season. UL has impressive wins over (7) Oregon, (8) Ohio State, (19) Michigan, (15) Duke, and they destroyed (5) Notre Dame 100-67 just 10 days ago.
Louisville is a balanced team. They are seventh nationally in OPPP (1.100). FSU is fourth (1.151). The Cards are also 10th in DPPP (.774) while FSU is 64th (.838). They are elite shooters ranking sixth nationally in effective field goal percentage (54.8%). FSU is 14th at 53.9%. They shoot the three ball well at 40% (although it is not a big part of their offense) and they are an excellent rebounding team with a double digit rebounding margin.
The Cards are led by player of the year candidate guard Asia Durr. The 5’10 junior is averaging 20.5 points a game. She is very skilled and athletic. She is extremely difficult to guard because she can score from all three phases as she can get to the basket, pull up for the midrange jumper and she shoots .487 from three. On top of all that if she is fouled she shoots 82.9% from the line.
Myisha Hines-Allen is a two time all-ACC first teamer. The 6’2 senior forward is a double double machine (33 for her career) averaging 14.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a contest. Jazmine Jones and Arica Carter are the only other Cards to start every game. The 6’0 Jones is a Tallahassee product (FAMU High) who is extremely athletic and great on the offensive boards. Carter is a 5’8 point guard who provides leadership for UL. She is also the other main three point threat aside from Durr.
Florida State got off to a nightmare start in this game. UL scored the first 10 points of the game. FSU missed their first five shots of the game. The spell was broken when Imani Wright hit a jumper but almost five minutes had passed before the Noles scratched the score sheet. Louisville then proceeded to score six straight points to make the score 16-2 and FSU was on the verge of getting run out of the gym like Notre Dame. From there the teams mostly traded baskets for the rest of the quarter but FSU ended the first quarter in a 22-9 hole. This was only the second quarter all year in which the Seminoles were held to single digits.
Fortunately for FSU in the second quarter they found their footing. AJ Alix started the quarter with a jumper. This jump started the Seminoles and they started to battle back. The Noles went on an 11-2 run to cut the UL lead to 24-18. From there the two teams traded baskets and UL went into the lockerroom with a 32-26 lead.
FSU started the third quarter on an 11-4 run which allowed them to take their first lead of the game at 37-36 with a Shakayla Thomas jumper with 3:22 remaining in the third. The quarter ended tied 38-38 as Kylee Shook hit a jumper for the Cards and Nausia Woolfolk hit a free throw for FSU. In between those points there were a lot of missed shots by both teams. The lid was on the basket for virtually the entire game for both sides.
In the fourth quarter Wright hit two free throws after being fouled by Hines-Allen. Thomas then hit a jumper to put the Noles up 42-38. From there neither team was able to take a more substantial lead. With two minutes left Carter hit a three to give the Cards a 47-46 lead. Alix responded on the next possession with a triple of her own from the top of the key which put FSU up 49-47. Nicole Ekhomu was then fouled by Jazmine Jones and hit one of two. Durr came down on the next possession and missed a triple. FSU should have fouled her as they were up three with fouls to give but they got away with it. Hines-Allen got the rebound and putback but the Cards were down three so it wasn’t enough as FSU walked away with the 50-49 victory.
This was an amazing win for FSU. They came back on the undefeated #2 team in the nation at their place after being down 16-2. They did it with defense and rebounding. They were decisively losing the rebounding battle early but they flipped the script and at the end of the game they had a 52-42 edge.
They held UL to 34.9% shooting (13.3% 3PT) after allowing the Cards to shoot 53% in the first quarter. FSU shot 3-17 in the horrendous first quarter and only shot 27.9% for the game but they gutted out the win in a hostile environment in front of 14,248 Louisville fans.
Chatrice White came off the bench for only the second time all season but she played perhaps her best game all year considering the quality of the opposition. She only had four points but she had 16 big rebounds and she stabilized FSU when she entered the game. Shakayla Thomas recorded a double double (14pts, 10reb) and Ama Degbeon had 10 boards.
UL scored 22 points in the first quarter. After that the Noles held them to 27 points for the rest of the game.
I have to emphasize that FSU won at Louisville shooting 27.9% and 23.1% from deep. This team has shown in successive games (today and at Wake Forest) that they have the heart to come back from big deficits on the road. This game was won more than anything with grit and heart against a more talented team in a hostile environment. The Noles have an important game coming up against Notre Dame but they are proving that there may be no tougher team in the nation.
(5) Notre Dame (18-2, 6-1 ACC) visits Tallahassee next Sunday at 4pm in a game for first place in the ACC. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Irish routed Clemson today 90-37. Sagarin rates FSU as 1.5 point favorites.