In what was far from Florida State’s best all-around performance this season, the Seminoles allowed too many easy baskets while struggling to get their own to fall in a 80-74 loss at No. 15 Miami Sunday evening.
What put the Seminoles behind by 13 at the half and what allowed them to nearly claw their way back into it? Here’s a look:
Above the Rim
- The emotions from this game are surely mixed from the Seminoles. After all, it was hardly their best effort both defensively and from outside the arc. Still, FSU had a chance to steal a win with its late surge in the final minutes. This in spite of the fact that the Hurricanes hit 21 of their 35 field goals from inside the arc (60%), making them the first team to hit 60% of their two-point field goals against FSU since the 2015-2016 season. UM penetrated inside far too easily, but also hit shots at a ridiculous clip early in Sunday’s matchup, starting 13-14 from the floor. In what has been a poor trend, FSU allowed its opponent to score more than one point per possession for the third straight game. However, it’s worth admitting that the three teams were all ranked in the Top 15 and this shouldn’t be considered a real issue until it continues happening against less talented teams.
- While defense was an issue for FSU, an uptick in rebounding at both ends allowed the ’Noles to hang around while not much else was going right against Miami. FSU, whose biggest issue so far this season has been defensive rebounding, saw significant improvement in this aspect in Sunday’s rivalry matchup. The Seminoles allowed only five rebounds on 25 Miami misses (20%), one of their lowest offensive rebounding percentages allowed this season. Pair this with FSU rebounding half of its misses at the other end (21 of 42) and you can see what kept the team in a game in which they were being soundly beaten in a number of key areas.
- It’s worth remembering how hard winning on the road in the ACC is. So far this season, home teams in ACC matchups are 18-4. Included in those 18 wins are Boston College and NC State knocking off a stacked Duke team and Georgia Tech defeating Miami. In each of FSU’s first three conference games, all of which have been against Top 15 teams and two of which have been on the road, the Seminoles have been right there with a chance to win in the closing minutes. 1-2 may appear to be a disappointing start to sectors of the fanbase, but when considering the circumstances surrounding it and the trajectory that FSU remains on, it’s not a troubling beginning.
- The impact that the return of Christ Koumadje could have going forward cannot be overstated. In his first game since November 19th, Koumadje showed surprisingly little rust, wrangling in eight rebounds (six offensive) in 13 minutes of action. Now, his offensive game was not as its best as he finished 2-6 from the floor with multiple point-blank misses at the rim and his minutes were limited not just by injury but by the four fouls he picked up. Still, Koumadje’s presence inside brings a veteran big man back to the starting lineup and reduces what is asked of freshman center Ikey Obiagu.
- After a strong start to ACC play from outside the arc, FSU’s three-point shooting had a costly off night against the ’Canes. The Seminoles finished the loss 5-24 (20.8%) from 3. This after Florida State shot over 37% in each of its first two conference matchups. Now, down nights from 3 are to be expected and can often be attributed to poor showings from one or two of a team’s most productive perimeter shooters. FSU’s problem Sunday was that each of its top four three-point shooters were all off in the same game. Phil Cofer, CJ Walker, M.J. Walker and Braian Angola entered Sunday a combined 43.2% from outside the arc on the year. Against Miami, these four hit just 3 of 17 threes (17.6%). The stars aligning on each of these four having off nights was quite untimely as even one of them having a regular three-point showing could have made the difference in the outcome.
- In his first few games against top-level opponents, the stage looked a bit too big for redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele. In the loss to UM, something may have clicked. The stretch forward led FSU’s impressive charge on the offensive glass, finishing with eight offensive rebounds, 12 total, and three of the Seminoles’ five total blocks. Offensively, Kabengele was not a huge factor and his 2-5 mark from the charity stripe leaves plenty to be desired, but his growth even just in rebounding could be a huge boost for the ’Noles
FSU returns home for a pair of home conference games this week. First is a matchup with Louisville Wednesday, followed by Syracuse on Saturday.