Florida State hoops was back in Tallahassee for a conference match against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Seminoles were favored in the matchup, but GT held a three-game winning streak against the Noles in previous matchups, carrying the winning formula against head coach Leonard Hamilton. That wasn’t the case in today’s matchup as the Seminoles defeated the Yellow Jackets 75-64. Florida State moves to 5-11 on the season, gaining a very important piece in Baba Miller next game.
Player of the game: Matthew Cleveland was yet again the Seminoles best player on the court. The sophomore finished the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds, giving him his eighth double-double in a Florida State uniform.
Hamilton rolled with a starting five of Jalen Warley, Darin Green Jr., Caleb Mills, Matthew Cleveland and Cameron Corhen.
Both teams scored on their first possession, giving Georgia Tech a 3-2 lead. GT’s Miles Kelly connected on two three’s to start the ball game, and Corhen knocked one down for the Noles on the other end. Georgia Tech started the match 3-3 from beyond the arc.
After an extremely efficient start from the Yellow Jackets, Hamilton elected to call a timeout. Kelly had 11 points, burying three triples to give GT a 16-7 lead. Florida State’s has trouble defending shots from distance for years, and it seems like that’ll continue if they don’t communicate with their constant switching.
Warley came out of the timeout with a three of his own and Mills joined the three-point party with his first shot of the game. The Seminoles didn’t have an answer for Kelly as he scored back-to-back buckets, giving him 16 points in just under eight minutes. In addition to the Noles issues defending the three, Corhen picked up two early fouls leading to a timeout.
Naheem McLeod checked into the game with 11:44 remaining. The Noles scored five of their last seven field goals at the halfway point, forcing Georgia Tech to call a timeout. With 10:28 left in the first half, Georgia Tech led 26-22. Chandler Jackson and Tom House entered the game to give Warley and Mills some rest.
The Seminoles suffered some unwarranted turnovers trying to feed McLeod from the top of the key, giving Georgia Tech easy fastbreak opportunities. At the 6:51 mark, Florida State carried a 29-26 deficit.
Florida State went on a small scoring drought just before Mills tossed up a lob to Cleveland to get the Seminoles back on the board. They secured their first lead since the score was 2-0 after an and-one from McLeod. With just under two minutes remaining, the Noles led 36-34.
The Noles headed into the half hitting their last three field goal attempts, resulting in a 39-36 lead. Florida State was shooting 52% from the field and 43% from three in the first half.
Georgia Tech started the first half on a scoring tear, so Florida State had to make sure to start one of their own to extend the lead in the second half. Corhen broke the ice for the Noles in the second half, but was then sidelined for McLeod after picking up his third foul on the other end.
The Yellow Jackets began the half on a three minute scoring drought and the Noles took complete advantage, gaining a 45-38 lead. Cleveland was phenomenal for the Noles, tallying 19 points and nine rebounds on 8-11 shooting. His high motor gave Florida State constant opportunities on the offensive end, having a 52-40 lead with 14 minutes remaining.
Darin Green Jr. poured in his first three of the game after starting 0-6 from beyond the arc. It was great to see Green knock down a shot from distance, but the highlight of the game was Warley posterizing a Georgia Tech defender, putting everyone in the Tucker Center on their feet.
At this point in the game the Noles carried all of the momentum. Florida State held a 57-44 lead with 11:32 left in the game. Green was back off the slump with eight straight points for the Seminoles, scoring all of his points in the second half. The Noles snatched a 20-point lead at 67-47 with nine minutes remaining.
There were some miscues for the Seminoles on the fastbreak, but a comfortable lead helped FSU in their adjustment. With four minutes remaining, Hamilton put Jackson back into the lineup to give the freshman some solid reps. Florida State ended the game slightly sloppy, giving easy buckets to the Yellow Jackets with minimal defense. Despite that, the Noles came out with the victory behind an exquisite performance from Cleveland.
Next game: The Seminoles head to Wake Forest, North Carolina for a meeting with the Demon Deacons. Florida State’s matchup will tipoff at 9:00 ET on the ACC Network. Wake Forest is currently favorited by ESPN, giving FSU a 15.2% chance to win.