- M.J. Walker led all Seminoles with five fouls drawn. He had a number of impressive drives where he got into traffic and exploded to the rim. This was a primary weakness during his first two seasons and it looked like his future would primarily be shooting 3s and playing defense. Two games isn’t enough to draw any conclusions, but he has more than doubled his career rate at drawing fouls. In his first two seasons he drew an average of 2.9/40 minutes, and right now he’s a 6.0/40. He’s a 78% career FT shooter (9-10 this year), so the more he can live at the line, the better.
- It will be interesting to see who leads this team in blocked shots. Yesterday it was Patrick Williams, and he is tied for the season lead (4) with Malik Osborne. And then there are the 7-footers in Dominik Olejniczak and Balsa Koprivica. Dom had a memorable block of Kerry Blackshear yesterday, but it somehow failed to make it into the official box score. Patrick Williams has an exceptional ability to get off the ground quickly, and with his length that makes him a problem to shoot over. This will be the 5th straight season that a different player has led the team in blocks, following Mfiondu Kabengele, Ike Obiagu, Jonathan Isaac, and Boris Bojanovsky.
- The Gators roster is once again stacked, on paper. Though I should point out it’s actually the fewest blue chips that head coach Mike White has had in a while. This year that number stands at seven (FSU has four) which includes three 5*s. In the previous two years he had 10 and 8 blue chips. He still has months to get this thing rolling, but the early impression is that this is another very good to elite defense coupled with an offense that will struggle. This is the fifth time that he’s coached against FSU as head coach of the Gators, and he’s only managed a point per possession once. In this game he needed a late, uncontested layup to avoid his lowest point total in his UF tenure.
- There are lots of ways to build an elite defense, but if you want to check in on a Leonard Hamilton coached team, look at defensive 2-pt%. All of his great defenses are dominant in the paint. Two games isn’t enough to make definitive proclamations, but it is enough to generate some excitement. Florida State opponents are currently shooting 32% on 2s (6th lowest nationally), and the ‘Noles are blocking 21% of 2s. The blocked shots percentage is amazing considering FSU has seen 18 total minutes from players taller than 6-9. Florida State’s SOS is also 31st, so it’s not like they’ve been padding numbers vs bad teams. There is time for that in the next three weeks.
- FSU won 63-51 in a 64 possession game. FSU’s offense has yet to score a point per possession this season, but there were moments in the 2nd half vs UF where you could see the potential. They came out of the break with clear intent on keeping the ball moving in order to create driving lanes while the defense adjusts. They also knocked down some 3s which they weren’t doing in the first half, and did a better job generating offense off the defense. The defense has been lethal. UF scored 0.796 points per possession (ppp), and the Gators join Missouri (missing half their roster) and Georgia Tech (twice) as the only high major teams FSU has held below 0.80 ppp in the past six years.
A win that will mean a lot in March