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Baseline Breakdown: FSU uses full team effort to overwhelm UNF

Mfiondu Kabengele had a career night...and he’s just scratching the surface.

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State used a devastating flurry at the start of the second half to blow the game wide open, then cruised to a 14-point win. The two areas of the game that stood out the most were how much better FSU took care of the basketball game and how poorly FSU shot from the perimeter.

Above the Rim

  • We’ve noted all year long that turnovers were a serious red-flag for an otherwise high-powered offense, but this game the Seminoles flipped the script in a big way. Florida State had zero giveaways in the first 14 minutes of the game, and coughed it up on just 2.9% of possessions in the first half. After the game, coaches and players noted how reducing turnovers had been a major priority heading into this game—hopefully this is the start of a turnaround in that area.
  • On the other hand, FSU’s three-point shooting was downright awful. Most of the shots were good looks, but nothing was falling. The ‘Noles finished 3-22 on the evening and are shooting just 32.3% on the season. The team actually has multiple strong 3-point shooters, so I’m not sounding the alarm just yet. But it would be nice to see guys like PJ Savoy (1 for his last 12) and M.J. Walker (5 for his last 16) get into a rhythm before conference play.
  • North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll has faced Leonard Hamilton’s bunch several times over the years, but he was particularly effusive with his praise after this game. His interview is worth a watch, but he called this version of the Seminoles the most connected, cohesive unit he’s ever seen. Indeed, it was a total team effort for the ‘Noles as five guys were in double figures and 10 guys played at least 13 minutes. Want to hear how this selfless culture was cultivated within the program? Go check out Mfiondu Kabengele’s interview. If that kid isn’t a joy to root for, I don’t know who is.

Court Level

  • Kabengele was all over the court during his 19 minutes off the bench. The big man set a career high with 24 points, grabbed 7 rebounds (4 offensive), had a beautiful backdoor pass to a cutting Terance Mann (Mann stepped out just before dunking), went 10-10 from the FT line, and guarded 3 or 4 positions. But most of all, he set the intensity level for his teammates and refused to let guys take plays off, even after the lead ballooned to 24. The redshirt sophomore still has a long way to go before he reaches his sky-high potential, but wow is it fun watching him start to show glimpses of what he can become.
  • Devin Vassell continues to impress. His Velociraptor length allows him to grab rebounds out of his area and the youngster just has a knack for being around the ball. Against UNF he showed off some of his vision and basketball IQ with 3 assists and no turnovers.
  • Christ Koumadje has significantly improved. He’s under control, using angles and positioning more effectively, and blocking shots while reducing his fouls. He’s also done a better job of embracing his role on offense, which is either A) grab the offensive board, keep the ball high, and dunk; 2) get positioning, catch a lob, dunk; or D) catch, turn, and dunk.
  • As noted above, PJ’s three-point shot was still off. But, importantly, the senior found other ways to contribute. He ran the court for a tip-in after a missed fast-break lay-up, he worked inside the arc for several two-point buckets (including a nice baseline floater that I didn’t know he had in his arsenal), and he grabbed three steals on D.
  • Phil Cofer, after playing five minutes in his first game back from an off-season foot injury, didn’t dress for the game. After the game, Coach Hamilton said he “could have played” if he was needed and that he “possibly” will play this weekend against St. Louis. But he also seemed to indicate that, as is the case for most athletes, Cofer’s recovery is as much mental as it is physical.

Post Game

Coach Driscoll discusses how special he thinks the 2018-19 Seminoles basketball team is, emphasizing how well the team plays well together and “really tries to get another person in a position to be successful.”

UNF basketball coach Matthew Driscoll media availability

Posted by on Thursday, December 20, 2018

Coach Hamilton addresses Phil Cofer, where the Seminoles stand this season, and the possibility that teams play harder when they come to Florida State.

Coach Hamilton media availability

Posted by on Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mfiondu Kabengele waxes eloquently on his evolving role with the team, how they cultivated such a selfless culture, and the potential of Devin Vassell:

Terance Mann discusses their increased focus on turnovers, the play of Kabengele, and how he feels the team stands a third of the way through the season:

Up Next

The number 11 ranked Seminoles head down to Sunrise, Florida to take on a solid St. Louis Billikens team in the Orange Bowl Classic this Saturday.