The Florida State Seminoles men’s basketball team returned to the court against the North Florida Ospreys after a nine-day layoff for final exams and like most games played in the Tucker Center, the home team walked away victoriously. The 98-81 brings FSU to 9-2 on the season.
The contest began with FSU’s offense executing nicely against a 2-3 zone look from the Ospreys, in which North Florida just doesn’t have enough length to disrupt passing lanes the way Syracuse does. Still, give the ’Noles credit for keeping the ball from sticking, moving without the ball, and finishing around the basket.
The first possession of the game resulted in an easy layup and that would be a common occurrence for the garnet and gold. In fact, Florida State was 11-14 on dunks or layups in the first half alone, as UNF doesn’t have anyone taller than 6’8 on their roster, allowing Balsa Koprivica, Patrick Williams, Dominik Olejniczak, and M.J. Walker to get to the rim at will.
Meanwhile, things went about as expected on the other end of the court. Michael Rogner told you before the game that UNF never saw a three it didn’t like (the Ospreys lead the country in 3PA/FGA), so it was bombs away from the tip. Before the break, it seemed like UNF possessions ended in one of three ways: A) made three; 2) missed three; D) turnover.
Unfortunately for FSU, there were more makes than misses from deep by UNF in the first half. Ryan Burkhardt, in particular, was dealing some heat, going 4-6 from downtown in just nine minutes of action. Fortunately for FSU, the Seminoles forced 10 first half turnovers, many of the live-ball variety. This allowed Florida State to take a 48-39 lead into the locker room despite being outscored by 21 from three.
The second half opened with Coach Hamilton cranking up the pressure on defense, which resulted in an immediate steal and dunk for Devin Vassell. A couple possessions later, FSU was off and running again—this time off a defensive rebound. Big Dom was the beneficiary this go around as he rocked the rim plus the harm. The subsequent free throw stretched the Seminole lead out to 57-41.
From there the score oscillated between 10 and 20 point leads for FSU, but the outcome was never in doubt. UNF continued to rain in threes. FSU continued to create easy looks both in the half court and off steals, blocks, and long rebounds. With 9:07 left to play, the ‘Noles led 80-59, shooting a scintillating 61.8% from the field, including over 70% on two point shots.
Essentially every Seminole played, at a minimum, decently. That’s what happens when you cruise to victory. However, special shout outs go to Walker and Koprivica. Walker, who’s spent much of the year banged up, put together what was easily his best all-around game of the season. The junior from Jonesboro, GA also had two of the highlights of the night, one on a skywalking, one-handed jam and the other on a show-and-go, dipsey-doo lay-up.
Meanwhile, all Koprivica did was set a new career-high with 15 points on just 8 shots, to go along with three offensive boards, and some pretty big-to-big passing against the zone.
From here, FSU travels down to the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida to take on a pesky South Florida Bulls squad this Saturday, December, 21st.
For more thoughts on this game, the upcoming USF game, as well as a discussion on FSU’s incoming recruits, be on the lookout for an upcoming episode of the TN Podcast. You can check out Michael and me on APPLE and SPOTIFY.
M.J. Walker shares what he’s focused on to improve his all-around game, talks about why he loves Dom and Balsa so much, and more.
Coach Hamilton discusses the unique challenge that UNF presents, his team’s growth during the first couple months of the season, what he’s asking his bigs to do, and more.