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Inside the box score: FSU 79, UConn 71

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The ‘Noles grind out a semi-road win

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Connecticut Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Christ Koumadje had what was perhaps his best game of the season. He had a career high 11 rebounds, and blocked four shots. In the 2nd half he and Mfiondu Kabengele each picked up their fourth foul before the under-12 timeout. Coach Hamilton went with a small-ball lineup, and immediately UConn began to cut significantly into a 15-point lead. So Ham went back to Koumadje and the Seminoles settled down and reestablished their lead.
  2. FSU was whistled for 27 fouls. UConn was whistled for 28. There were two flagrant fouls and three technicals. I’ve long blasted the NCAA for its insistence on using part-time employees to ref a billion dollar business, which they do as part of their plan to prop up the sham of amateurism. Last night’s incompetence made it difficult for much basketball to happen. There was one ref who was working his 2nd game of the season - his first was an epic battle between McNeese State and NC Central - and another ref was working his 2nd game of the day. They allowed UConn head coach Danny Hurley to behave like an idiot all game, being abusive toward the refs and spending half the game outside the coaching box. By the end of the game Coach Hurley was screaming down the sideline for Phil Cofer to shut up (Phil’s response was to point to the scoreboard). The refs called two “hook and hold” flagrant fouls, and went to the monitor for a third. Each year the NCAA comes up with a really dumb rule to emphasize, and that is this year’s version. When players lock arms half the audience think one guy is at fault, and the other half thinks the other guy is at fault. The refs seem to just flip a coin or call it in favor of whichever team they laid money on. The NCAA’s decision to make this a flagrant puts the refs in a position where they’re required to assign blame to what are often random events, and at some point because of this rule FSU will likely lose a game they should have won, or win a game they should have lost. In a conference where Tobacco Road rules, you know which of those is the safer bet.
  3. Graduate transfer David Nichols has struggled to integrate himself with the FSU team. But in recent games Coach Hamilton has moved to playing him alongside Trent Forrest for most of his minutes in order to reduce his responsibilities. It seems to be paying off, and Nichols scored 13 of FSU’s first 25 points. In the past three games he’s 6-10 from deep, 6-7 from the line, and has seven of his 12 assists.
  4. This should not have been a close game, but continued turnover woes kept Florida State from turning this into a rout. Florida State turned it over on 28% of their possessions, which is the most the Huskies have turned over a high major team in five years. In the past four seasons FSU has turned it over at that rate one other time (last year’s loss to Oklahoma State). FSU is now 320th in turnovers nationally, and this is keeping them from having a top-15 offense to go with their No. 13 defense.
  5. FSU won 79-71 in a 78 possession game. The 0.91 points per possession scored by UConn was their worst of the season. That’s back-to-back games where FSU has held their opponent to their lowest output of the year. The most encouraging sign was that after allowing four straight opponents to make more than half their 2s, UConn was limited to just 40%.