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Basketball Observations: FSU fights hard but leaves Littlejohn with a loss

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FSU couldn’t quite get the sweep of Clemson.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State hung around, but couldn’t pull off the upset against the Clemson Tigers. The “closer than the score indicates” 76-63 loss drops FSU to 8-9 in ACC play.

Above the Rim:

  • There are no moral wins this time of year, but it was nice to see FSU look like a team capable of winning meaningful games in March. There were mistakes to be sure. Some careless passes, out of control drives, and untimely fouls just to name a few. But Florida State played far better basketball than in either of the previous two games (Pitt and @NC State). Ultimately, an experienced and tough Clemson team made the kind of plays down the stretch that experienced and tough teams make at home—on Senior Night, no less—and pulled away for the win. But this was more of a case of Clemson winning the game than FSU losing it.
  • Defensive rebounding reared it’s ugly head. I mentioned some of the mistakes above and those no doubt hurt. But if you had to point to a single reason FSU lost, defensive rebounding would be a pretty good place to start. Clemson grabbed 42% of misses in first half, allowing the Tigers to take a three-point lead into the locker room despite FSU being in control for large portions of the opening stanza. It got a little better in the second half, but not good enough for the Seminoles to overcome.
  • FSU finally found a stroke from the perimeter. After shooting 12-53 from three in their previous 3 games, FSU went 5-10 in the first half and 9-23 for the game. Now, most of that was just two guys (Phil Cofer and Braian Angola), but nonetheless it was nice to see some shots go down from the outside. If FSU can re-establish their perimeter threat that will help open up driving lanes for slashers like Trent Forrest.

Court Level:

  • Trent Forrest got the start in place of CJ Walker, who is dealing with knee tendinitis. While Trent was solid, he was unable to replicate his heroics from two weeks ago, going just 2-5 from the field. One nice development for Trent this season has been his improvement at the free throw line and that continued against Clemson. A 67% shooter from the stripe last year, Forrest is now over 76% in ACC play this year. Kudos to him for his hard work.
  • CJ Walker was limited to just 11 minutes, easily his lowest of the season. We will have to monitor his health moving forward.
  • Phil scored 17 after halftime in the first matchup against Clemson and picked up where he left off in this one. He drained three long-distance shots in the first half and had 13 at the half. He ended up leading FSU in scoring with 21—including 5-9 from deep—but it wasn’t enough to lead his team to victory.
  • Ike Obiagu enjoyed his block party against NCSU so much he decided to host another one. The freshman added 5 more blocks to the 6 he had on Sunday, and intimated Clemson players into missing several other shots. The future is bright for this one.
  • Braian Angola got some confidence back. Mired in a terrible shooting slump entering the game, the senior finally saw a few shots go through the hoop. And it immediately helped the rest of his game too. We’ll see if he can make it two games in a row, but on Wednesday night it was a welcome sight.
  • Terance Mann played one of the worst games I’ve seen him play at FSU. The Seminoles’ leading scorer and rebounder, Mann was limited to 3 points on 1-9 shooting and 4 rebounds. He also committed 4 fouls, often due to being beaten off the dribble. The one positive was his passing, setting others up to score on several occasions. If FSU is to win another game this season (which it needs to do in order to play in the NCAA Tournament), Mann simply has to be aggressive, finish around the rim, and crash the glass.

Looking Ahead:

Florida State heads home for Senior Day against Boston College. This will be the second meeting between FSU and BC this season, with the Eagles scoring an 81-75 home win back in mid-January. The Seminoles are 12-3 on Senior Day under Coach Hamilton. The game tips at 2:00pm on Saturday, so come on out and show appreciation to Brandon Allen, Braian Angola, and Phil Cofer.*

*Phil Cofer has applied for a medical redshirt stemming from significant injuries during multiple seasons earlier in his career.