Miami is a loaded basketball team. They were a preseason top 15 selection and even garnered a first place vote in the preseason ACC media picks. And FSU just took the best punch they can throw, hung onto the ropes, and then came back with a haymaker in overtime to knock out the Hurricanes. In one of the highest level displays of basketball I’ve ever seen in person, Florida State led for more than 40 minutes and pulled away for a 103-94 overtime victory.
Above the Rim:
- The intensity and effort were both the highest and most consistent that they’ve been all year. For much of this season you could see visible lapses in focus or execution from possession to possession, and Coach Hamilton has lamented this inconsistency on a weekly basis. But at least for one game the Seminoles were able to maintain their focus for a full 45 minutes.
- The first 8 minutes of the game were a far cry from the start in Coral Gables. Three weeks ago Miami started 13-14, but only made 7 of their first 18 shots today. Meanwhile, FSU made more threes in the first half (6) than they made in the entire game the first go around (5). However, turnovers and Lonnie Walker allowed Miami to stay keep it close. FSU turned it over on 20% of their first half possessions—several of which were the deadly live ball variety—while Miami turned it over on fewer than 10% of their possessions. Combine that with spectacular playmaking from freshman sensation Lonnie Walker IV and FSU led by only 5 points at the break despite shooting 66% from the field.
- The second half began where the first half left off—with Miami shooting the net off the rim. Hamilton threw a 2-3 zone at Miami and it worked for a couple possessions, but was soon busted by Lonnie Walker and Dejan Vasiljevic. So Coach went a little deeper into his bag and pulled out a three-quarter press that dropped into an extended zone. That move finally created a little helter-skelter ball that allowed FSU to get a few transition buckets and extend the lead out to 7 or 8. But Miami simply wouldn’t miss from three. Double team a shooter in the corner? Splash. Force a 27 foot fall away with one second left on the shot clock? Splash. Nonetheless, Florida State was able to get key stops when they most needed them and Miami could never quite get over the hump.
- FSU had one turnover after in the final 32 minutes of the game. One. And it was a shot clock violation. In a game where literally every possession mattered, the Seminoles protected the ball as good as a team can do and it was a total team effort. The guards made smart decisions in the half court and transition, and Phil Cofer and Christ Koumadje were under control and stayed within themselves in the paint. This execution helped FSU score a ridiculous 1.39 points per possession for the game, en route to becoming the first team to score 100 points against Miami in the Jim Larranaga era.
- Braian Angola came out the way a senior should in a rivalry game—focused and aggressive. He attacked the basket and picked his shots within the flow of the offense. He also skillfully set others up for easy baskets and crashed the glass with authority. For the game, Angola finished with 18 points on only 5 shots (he went 8-8 from the line), 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and an offensive rating of 174, all of which made him the KenPom MVP of the game.
- Phil Cofer played a man’s game. Yes, his 21 points and 9 rebounds jump off the box score. But he did so much more. On several occasions in the first half he played beautiful help defense and cut off drives along the baseline. He set screens to free up guys like Angola and MJ Walker on the perimeter. He provided energy and attitude, sparking his teammates and the crowd. And he came up with a monster block to help seal the game in overtime. Simply put, Phil was marvelous.
- M.J. Walker came out hot and displayed a wider range of game than we’ve seen for most of his first year. There was a nice jab step, one dribble jumper. He had a good drive all the way to the rim. His defense was improved and he did it without fouling. And he was 2-2 from three. The freshman is still figuring out how to consistently get to his spots in the physical ACC, but he played very well in his 24 minutes against Miami.
- Christ Koumadje played his role very effectively. The box score might only show him with 2 rebounds and 1 block, but his presence in the paint allowed others to grab defensive rebounds and altered the trajectory of several other shots. On offense, his penchant for grabbing lobs and stuffing them home changes the way opponents can defend FSU’s guards.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Terance Mann was steady, making contributions all over the court. He only finished with 14 points, but he played a team high 42 minutes and always seemed to come up with a bucket when Miami was threatening to take the lead. It would be nice if the junior took a few more shots from the perimeter when he’s wide open and in rhythm, as sometimes the looks he passes up end up being the best look of the possession. But overall Mann has made massive strides in his game from last year to this year and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Florida State will head out for a two-game road trip this week, beginning in Winston-Salem with a matchup against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Deacs are sporting a 1-8 ACC record, but they’ve been pretty competitive at home, including a victory over Syracuse.