Florida State ends the regular season with a home victory, defeating the NC State Wolfpack 89-76 at home. The Noles kicked off the game with usual senior day jitters but picked up the pace later in the first and never gave up the lead in the second. The Seminoles haven’t lost a game on senior day since 2014 against Syracuse.
Player of the game: Mills came back to the Seminoles lineup with comfort and ease, playing with his typical confidence. He concluded the game with 19 points on 7-8 from the field.
The NC State Wolfpack traveled to Tallahassee riding a three game losing streak, currently tied with Georgia Tech for the worst record in the ACC. Today’s contest featured two desolate teams looking to make a late season surge as they head into the conference tournament next week.
Florida State celebrated senior day today, honoring a hand full of upperclassman including Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, RayQuan Evans, Justin Linder, Wyatt Wilkes, Tanor Ngom, and Harrison Prieto. They started the matchup with Polite, Linder, Evans, Wilkes, and Ngom. Redshirt sophomore Caleb Mills and freshman Mathew Cleveland were both available today. Mills last played against UNC on February 2nd and Cleveland’s last game was on road against Virginia.
Ngom broke the ice for the Seminoles, knocking down two free throws to put the first points on the board. Wilkes joined him on the scoreboard to put the Noles up 4-0 right before Evans had fans awing with a help side block. Terquavion Smith knocked down back-to-back threes and the game was tied at six with 15:56 left in the half. Mills entered the lineup after the first timeout and scored immediately on a crafty layup.
Cleveland, John Butler and Jalen Warely replaced the upperclassman five minutes into the ball game. Polite substituted for Mills after he was clearly winded in two minutes of game action. Ngom and Cleveland were taking advantage of a short NC State lineup, putting the Noles up 17-13 with 10 points in the paint. Smith led the Wolfpack with nine points on 3-4 from downtown.
The Noles pushed the lead to 23-15 after a couple transition buckets and made shots from the free throw line, resulting in an NC State timeout with 8:23 remaining. Defensive rebounding continued to be a struggle, giving up way to many shot attempts to a team that can get hot from beyond the arc. Wilkes and Ballard checked into the game around the eight minute mark of the first half while the Noles were leading 25-19. Ballard gave the Seminoles the necessary paint protection while Ngom took a breather but two quick fouls had him back on the bench.
Evans and Mills served as Florida States floor generals later in the half giving them great energy and pace on both ends of the floor. Polite and Mills scored a couple buckets around the rim to extend the lead to 33-25 with 3:14 left in the half. Ngom led the Noles with eight points and Polite led with seven rebounds at that point. Warley paired that with three assists in seven minutes, giving FSU great playmaking ability in the half court.
Warley kept his high motor on the offensive end, connecting on a three from the wing and finishing a tough layup on the very next play. Wolfpack senior Jericole Hellems was a great contributor to keep the score within close distance; he had nine points and four rebounds to end the half. His right hand man Smith finished the half with 19 points on 7-13 shooting, playing with a veteran level confidence as a true freshman.
The first half concluded with a Wilkes three ball to give the Noles a 46-35 lead. Mills was the Seminoles leading scorer with nine on 3-3 from the field. FSU shot 40% from three and 55% from the field in the first half, while leading the assist ratio 10-3. They also secured 21 boards and 22 points in the paint.
The Noles biggest issue in the first half was containing the three point line, giving way too many separated looks to Smith on mismatches. They needed to continue their share the ball mentality while making sure they’re aware of the shot clock. Dominating the paint was the clear game plan heading into this matchup.
Evans started the second half finding the bottom of the net on a corner three. Both Butler and Polite picked up a foul just 90 seconds into the half. NC State started the second a bit sloppy on the offensive end, earning most of their points from the charity stripe. Mills extended the Seminoles lead to 57-42 scoring six straight points. Evans had a 7-1 assist to turnover ratio with 13 minutes left in the second half, really showing that veteran awareness. His seven assists and counting marked his career high with the Seminoles.
Smith scored his first basket of the second half at the 12 minute mark. Although FSU learned some of Smiths habits on the court, they were left dealing with Hellems who jolted his point total to 15 on 3-7 from long range. The Noles led 61-49 with 11:34 remaining. Polite and NC States Dereon Seabron connected on some three’s and Hellems put Mills on line the for two shots after a technical foul. Midway through the second half Florida State had nine fouls to NC States three, leading to easy buckets from the charity stripe.
Butler sprayed in a three of his own at the 8:30 mark and had a monster block on the other end, FSU was 73-56 at that point. The Wolfpack just wouldn’t go away scoring five points in a matter of 10 seconds as they cut the deficit down 12. Warley picked up is fourth foul with 4:43 left in the game and NC State entered the double bonus. Mills went down with an apparent leg injury with 3:28 left in the ball game. The Noles were leading 78-69.
Polite slammed down a tomahawk dunk late in the half and Prieto followed that with a three to close the game. Mills was the Seminoles point man registering 19 points while Evans had a career high 10 assists and Polite had a career high 10 rebounds. Smith clearly led the Wolfpack with 30 points as a true freshman, knocking down five threes.
Next game: Florida State will compete in the ACC tournament starting March 8th up until March 12th. They are currently slated as the No.8 seed playing No.9 Syracuse but we’ll have to wait and see where the final week of the regular season truly falls tomorrow. They’ll travel to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the league tournament. Their latest title was in 2012 and in 2020 they were crowned regular season champions.