Florida State struggled against an injury-ridden Notre Dame team but ultimately pulled away for a 68-62 victory.
Above the Rim
- FSU continues to struggle with giving the ball away. Their 19.4% turnover percentage is 235th in the country. Those struggles were on full display in the 1st Half with 9 turnovers. The ’Noles did a better job securing the ball in the 2nd Half, committing only 5 TOs, but in a game in which they had 67 possessions, the ’Noles had a TO% of 20.9. Notre Dame finished with 9 TOs, 6 of those coming in the 1st Half, and are currently 7th in the nation with a TO% of 14.4% on the year. FSU managed to edge the Irish in points off of turnovers, 12-10. Compounding their ball security issues, FSU forced only 3 steals, well below their average of 10.5 per game, while Notre Dame had TEN takeaways on the night.
- Notre Dame is a sub-300 team nationally in three-point shooting, at 31.5% on the season. That was not apparent in the 1st half of this matchup, as the Fighting Irish went 6-13 (46.2%) from deep. They cooled off in the 2nd, going 2-8 (25%), and finished 8-21 (38.1%). The Irish’s top two three-point shooters in this game, Prentiss Hubb and DJ Harvey, came into the matchup shooting 25.8% and 29.5% from beyond the arc, respectively. Hubb hit 3-6, and Harvey shot 2-3 against FSU. Coach Hamilton mentioned in his post-game comments that he sat Christ Koumadje in the 2nd Half to go with a smaller lineup that could better guard the three. The ’Noles shot 6-19 (31.6%) from deep, just below their season average of 33.7%.
- As mentioned above, Koumadje sat most of the 2nd Half and logged only 12 minutes overall due to Hamilton deploying a smaller lineup. Despite a lack of minutes, the big man was efficient, finishing with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block. Koumadje has unexpectedly emerged over the last several games and given FSU quite the rotation with he and Mfiondu Kabengele holding down the post.
- Kabengele struggled from the floor, shooting just 3-11, but still finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Off-nights are to be expected, but Kabengele showed the ability to find ways to contribute even when his shots weren’t falling.
- M.J. Walker has become a source of contention amongst FSU basketball fans this season. His talent is evident, but he often tries to do too much and turns the ball over at an extremely high rate. Walker led the team with 3 turnovers against Notre Dame, but he also showed some positive traits, logging 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. For anyone wondering why he seems to stay on the court at times when he his not contributing much on the offensive end, the answer is that he provides a lot on the defensive end. Two examples came in the last 5 minutes of the first half when Walker forced a turnover in causing his man to walk and then a couple minutes later he jumped a passing lane for a breakaway slam to tie the game just before intermission. Walker’s perimeter defense was a big part of FSU getting this win, and it’s been a big part of the team’s success all season.
- FSU’s bench outscored Notre Dame’s 31-6. The ’Noles tend to outscore their opponent’s bench due to Kabengele’s role as the 6th man, but against the Irish, it was Devin Vassell leading the way with 13 points. Shooting 5-6 from the floor, Vassell was 3-3 from beyond the arc, adding a game-high 7 rebounds and 1 block in 22 minutes of play. He was just shy of his career high in points, that came with 16 against SE Missouri State, but set a new career high in rebounds and did it all against ACC competition. Vassell has shown flashes of his potential in his freshman season and made the most of his opportunities against Notre Dame. Notably, he came up big in moments when the Seminoles needed plays. The ’Noles were down 55-52 with just under 7 minutes remaining before Vassell threw down a thunderous putback dunk and then drained a three on the following possession to give FSU a 57-55 lead. Vassell’s breakout night is not only a positive sign for the current season, but for his future at FSU.
Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey:
Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton:
FSU Freshman Devin Vassell:
Florida State gets a needed break before hosting North Carolina State at noon on Saturday.
Keep up on which games to watch when the ’Noles aren’t playing with The FSU basketball fan’s daily rooting guide.