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Inside the box score: FSU weathers the Vermont storm

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Seminoles provide ACC’s lone bright spot on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round- Florida State vs Vermont David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  1. The Florida State Seminoles won the Xs and Os battle by making one of the most dynamic players in college basketball look like just another guy. The key to guarding Anthony Lamb was ball-pressure on other players so they couldn’t make straight-line passes to Lamb. So, when they inevitably lobbed the ball to him, the double-team could get to him on the pass, disrupting Vermont’s quick hitters. Lamb ended up making just one shot from inside the arc, his fewest all season. He attempted 10 3s, which was his 3rd most this year and finished with 16 relatively inefficient points. Luckily for the Vermont Catamounts, not-Anthony Lamb hit 13-22 3s, including many contested shots. Vermont entered the game shooting 35.5% from deep, which is 1% above NCAA average. The Cats haven’t made more 3s in a game in at least a decade.
  2. Lost in the drama of Vermont making it rain was how dominant FSU’s interior defense was, limiting the Catamounts to 7-21 (33%) on 2s. They’d only made a lower % of 2s once this season, and in previous contests vs high-major teams, they made 47% against Kansas and 57% against Louisville. In those two games, Anthony Lamb made 13-22 (59%).
  3. FSU forced 16 turnovers, which was 24% of the Vermont possessions. The ’Noles only coughed it up seven times. These nine additional (“hidden”) possessions for Florida State were crucial in the 7-point win. It was the 2nd best turnover rate for FSU this season.
  4. David Nichols hasn’t had many huge games (Hi, Virginia), but the graduate transfer has a knack for making plays when Florida State really needs them. When Vermont opened a 9-point lead in the first half, it was Nichols who initiated the comeback by drilling a 3-pointer. He did it again in the 2nd half, tying the game with a 3-pointer after Vermont took its largest second half lead (3 points). A couple of minutes later he had a laser of a pass in transition to hit Mfiondu Kabengele in stride for a dunk that would put FSU up for good:

5. FSU won 76-69 in a 68 possession game. The Florida State offense was anemic in the first half, scoring just 27 points in 33 possessions (0.82 per possession). In the second half, the ’Noles got on track, scoring 49 points in 35 possessions (1.40). Vermont dominated the defensive glass in the first half, allowing FSU to grab only 20% of its misses. But this was a strength-on-strength battle of a great defensive rebounding team against a great offensive rebounding team, and after intermission, it was Florida State’s turn, grabbing 44% of its misses.