Ever wondered what happens when a basketball team gives up wide open shots, doesn’t put pressure on the ball, and doesn’t create turnovers? Florida State found out on Wednesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the results weren’t pretty. The NC State Wolfpack blitzed FSU from the jump, dropping 49 first half points and cruising to a 94-66 win. With the loss, the Seminoles fall to 7-16 overall and 5-7 in ACC play.
Matthew Cleveland opened the game with a jumper to give FSU a 2-0 lead...and that was basically the only thing that went well for the Seminoles on the night. Soon-to-be NBA guard Terquavion Smith drained a three on the ensuing possession and it was all downhill from there.
The Wolfpack met little resistance on defense, going on a 12-0 run before the under-16 timeout and then followed it up with a 18-0 run to take a 30-4 lead at the 10:47 mark. In that stretch the ‘Pack drained five threes, many lightly contested, and then after they’d stretched out the “defense” were able to get into the paint at will. On the other end of the court, FSU looked about like you’d think a team looks like when they have 4 points in 10 minutes. Lost.
NC State opened up a 40-10 lead with 6:18 remaining in the first half behind two more threes from Smith (sensing a trend?) and a few more layups. But the last 6 minutes of the half belonged to the Seminoles, as the visitors in all garnet outscored the home squad 17-9 over the final stretch of action. This meant FSU just barely avoided giving up half-a-hundred in the first half for the second time in three games.
At halftime, NC State was 9-13 from downtown, with Smith going 5-7 from deep, as the Wolfpack scored almost 1.5 points per possession. FSU was led by 7 points (5-5 from the FT line) and 4 assists from North Carolina native Caleb Mills. However, the ‘Noles turned it over on 27% of their first half possessions and were 0-3 from deep.
Yes, you read that right. Florida State was outscored by 27 points from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half didn’t really matter in determining the outcome, but it’s always nice to build some pride and character. Right? Maybe? The half actually began the same way the game did, with a bucket by Cleveland. Unlike the first half, NC State didn’t immediately go on a massive run. So that’s something.
FSU cut the lead to 55-38 on a Darin Green Jr three-ball, the first of the game for the ‘Noles, and again had the deficit at 17 about 45 seconds later after a Chandler Jackson layup. But it’s hard to make comebacks if you can’t get stops, and this defense cannot get stops when facing quick, athletic guards such as Smith or Clemson’s Chase Hunter. Smith will be showing this game to NBA scouts, as the sophomore had 26 points with 11 minutes and some change left in the game, many of them on dazzling step-backs followed by high-arcing buckets.
In fact, with a little under 10 minutes left, FSU had 11 assists on 19 made shots, while the Wolfpack had just 9 assists on 24 made shots. But who needs assists when you can simply break a defense down off the dribble, get to your spot, and rise up for the basket? And it didn’t help FSU that they were turning the ball over twice as often as NC State, as this year’s team simply does not seem capable of causing deflections and disruptions on defense.
The rest of the game sort of came and went with nothing to write home about. Both squads emptied the bench, NC State nearly scored 100, and that was that. Smith led all scorers with 32 (though it took him 24 shots).
Box Score and Takeaways:
—How much can you really takeaway from a total annihilation? FSU came into the game dead last in the ACC in three-point percentage defense and that inability to prevent guys from getting open looks from deep shown through nice and bright once again. Meanwhile, NC State came into the game 2nd in the league in protecting the basketball and they easily demonstrated why in this one.
—After recording 8 double-doubles in a row between December 13th and January 17th, Cleveland hasn’t had one since. In fact, he hasn’t even had more than 5 rebounds since the surprising win over Pitt back on Jan 21st. He’s undoubtedly facing some fatigue after carrying the rebounding load on his back for more than a month, and there’s also the fact that Baba Miller has joined the lineup providing another long athlete who can secure some boards. But it’s also clear that as conference season has marched on, opposing coaches are building game plans around putting a body on the sophomore wing. Cleveland has certainly caught the attention of NBA scouts with his improved shooting and physicality, but if we wants to rise up draft boards he’ll need to demonstrate he can perform at a high level despite being a marked man.
—Cameron Corhen should not be having to play this many minutes in an ideal scenario his freshman season. That’s just a simple fact that even the coaches have stated. But with season ending injuries to Cam’Ron Fletcher and Jaylan Gainey, De’Ante Green just now recovering from his knee injury, and Naheem McLeod essentially becoming unplayable, this isn’t the ideal scenario. Nonetheless, Corhen continues to display the kind of soft hands, shot making, and effort that leaves fans and coaches alike excited for his potential. In this one, the freshman scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds—just missing career highs in both—before fouling out. My only hope is that he listens people like Stan Jones, who know a thing or two about developing lottery first round draft picks, and comes back for another season. We saw what happened last year when John Butler made an asinine decision to turn pro despite their being little evidence that he could or would be drafted (aside from people in his camp wish-casting), resulting in a poor outcome for him and FSU. Hopefully Corhen is smart enough to bet on himself by returning to Tallahassee and developing from long-term potential to first round pick.
FSU stays on the road for a matchup against arguably the worst high-major team in America, tipping off against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday at 2pm in the KFC Yum! Center. What a treat that should be for the fans of both schools!