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No. 15 FSU snatches last-second win over No. 19 Purdue: a breakdown from the baseline

Seminoles survive, but lots of room for improvement.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the 2nd half it looked like FSU would suffer a second consecutive defeat. However, a 9-0 run over the final 3:43 allowed the Seminoles to snatch a 73-72 win over No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers.

Above the Rim:

  • A disconcerting trend is starting to emerge just seven games into the season: slow, sloppy starts. I know Florida State wins by committee and depth. Leonard Hamilton has won me over—I’m sold. If the game’s close with 10 minutes remaining, I’m usually feeling pretty good. However, you still don’t want to be spotting teams an early lead, no matter your depth. FSU trailed LSU 12-6, Villanova 10-2, and Purdue 12-7. And the biggest culprit for those slow starts is careless play.
  • Making matters worse, this game actually featured a slow start to both halves. Leading by 12 at the half, FSU had a chance to repeat what it did against UF and step on the proverbial throat. Instead, the Seminoles turned the ball over, played lazy defense, and essentially looked as if they thought the win was in the bag. This gave the Boilermakers a shot of confidence, and they quickly seized momentum, as the visitors controlled most of the second stanza.
  • Fouling too much, especially after an opponent is already in the bonus, continues to be a problem. Yes, the refs seemed to have an inconsistent whistle when it came to blocks/charges. But the fact remains: FSU is reaching and fouling too much (290th nationally in FTA/FGA). It’s not just one game. It’s all season long, and it’s preventing FSU from having an elite defense.
  • At times, FSU is seemingly trying to do too much. This team is full of guys with complimenting strengths, but each player needs to actually play to their (and their teammates’) strengths for the team to be successful.
  • One positive is the ’Noles continue to turn their opponents over at a prodigious rate. On the season, FSU’s creating turnovers on 23.7% of possessions, good for 25th in the country. Unfortunately, FSU’s offense continues to turn the ball over at a much higher rate (21.7%) than they had the previous three seasons. A lot of that stems from the previous point—trying to do too much.
  • Once again, FSU’s free throw shooting was fantastic. The Seminoles have been one of the better teams in the country at getting to the free throw line the last couple years, but this year the team is both getting to the line (55th nationally) and making their shots at a high rate (24th nationally). Florida State finished 17-20 (85%) from the stripe (with no guy attempting more than 5), raising its season average to 76.8%.

Court Level:

  • Terance Mann and Trent Forrest disappeared for most of the 2nd half. Now, Mann had a fantastic 1st half (9 PTS, 5 REB, 2 BLK) and obviously Forrest hit the game winning runner in the lane, so they were clearly still a major part of the win. But the pair combined for 2 PTS, 3 REB, and 0 AST after halftime. That simply cannot happen from your upperclassmen. Forrest, in particular, has proven he can seemingly get to the rim at will when he wants. He exhibited it at the end of regulation vs. LSU to send it into overtime, and he demonstrated it again vs. Purdue. But where was that the previous 19 minutes? Why was the junior PG so passive earlier? Mann, who was all over the place in the 1st half, didn’t even attempt a shot in 18 minutes after intermission. How is that possible?
  • M.J. Walker has shot well from the perimeter to start the season (45% on 31 attempts), and he came up with a clutch three late in the 2nd half of this one. However, he’s absolutely part of the crew trying to do too much at times. He’s going to make a living playing basketball because of his 3 & D ability and right now that’s what FSU needs. Forrest and Mann are fantastic slashers. At this point in his career, Walker’s handle is still quite loose, and he’s often out of control when going to the hoop, leading to turnovers. He needs to let Mann, Forrest, and David Nichols draw the defense in, while waiting outside for open threes.
  • Once again, Raiquan Gray made some big plays in his 14 minutes on the court. He hit 4-4 on his FTs (87% on the season), made a three, grabbed a couple rebounds, and came up with a big steal late in the 2nd half. It wasn’t all good for the redshirt-freshman, as he’s a big part of the “foul too much” crowd (last on FSU at 7.2 fouls/40), but his development appears to be coming along nicely.
  • Nichols had what was easily his best game in Garnet and Gold (or turquoise). The graduate transfer from Albany hit his first and second 3s of the season (after starting 0-10), played solid defense without fouling, and dished out 3 assists to just 2 turnovers. He also grabbed 3 defensive rebounds. It’ll be critical for him to continue providing consistent play like this during the ACC meat grinder.
  • Devin Vassell needs more minutes. Coach Ham & Co. have been easing the true freshman into the flow, which is understandable given FSU’s opening gauntlet, but with 4 of the next 6 games coming against opponents outside KenPom’s top-150, the staff needs to find a way to get him on the court more. His perimeter shooting stretches defenses and his high basketball IQ allows him to make plays all over the court. I’d suggest pulling 2-3 minutes from Mann, 2-3 minutes from Walker, and 3+ minutes from Savoy, giving all three some much-needed rest, while bumping Vassell into the 15-18 mpg range.

Post-game:

Coach Hamilton:

M.J. Walker:

Terance Mann:

UP NEXT:

FSU gets the weekend off before welcoming Troy to the Tucker Center Monday, December 3rd. The Trojans are 3-3 on the season, but have been struggling on defense, ranking 243rd in adjusted defensive efficiency.