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Florida State thrashes Central Michigan, moves to 2-0

The Seminoles just equaled last season’s OOC win total.

Jamir Watkins drives against Central Michigan
Peyton Baker

The Florida State men’s basketball team followed up their season opening blowout of Kennesaw State with a second consecutive demolition of an overmatched opponent. This time it was the Central Michigan Chippewas on the receiving end, as the Seminoles overwhelmed their visitors from up north from the tip and could have named their winning margin. When the dust settled it was a 94-67 romp for the second time in two games.

First Half:

FSU came out exactly the way you wanted to see them start a game. The ‘Noles were locked in on defense, getting deflections and steals on six of Central Michigan’s first eight possessions. And unlike the exhibition game against Valdosta State, the Seminoles cashed in with made shots. Cameron Corhen started it off with nice touch in the paint, but he was soon joined by a bevy of bucket-making teammates.

Jamir Watkins had a 5-0 personal run, immediately followed by Baba Miller with a 4-0 one-man run. Darin Green, Jr was the next ‘Nole to score, followed by threes from Josh Nickelberry and Cam’Ron Fletcher, and with barely six minutes gone in the game the scoreboard showed FSU leading 21-8. Six different Seminoles scored in those opening six minutes.

Florida State would stretch the lead to 18 halfway through the opening stanza on an offensive rebound putback by Miller. However, the next few minutes were marked by the sloppiest stretch of play FSU has displayed on the young season. Multiple missed shots around the basket were followed by multiple turnovers in a row—one where freshman Taylor Bol Bowen just dribbled off his leg in the open court. This all added up to a bit of confidence for the Chippewas and the lead was down to 30-18 at the 7:30 time stamp.

Green, Jr put an end to that run with a deep three off a feed from Chandler Jackson, followed by Watkins making his 9th and 10th points at the charity stripe and just like that the lead was back to 17.

However, Central Michigan had found something by attacking off the dribble with their diminutive guard Paul McMillen IV and after a 6-0 Chippewa run the lead was cut back to 11. Faced with the possibility of the lead dwindling under 10 for the first time in a long time, Florida State once again responded with a flurry of action. This time it was Fletcher providing the jolt. The sparkplug off the bench scored four straight points and then made a nice dime to Green, Jr on the fast break who buried the three. The two teams then traded buckets for the final couple minutes with Nickelberry landing the final punch of the half, a three pointer from the wing that pushed the FSU lead to 50-30.

The story of the half for Florida State was a feathery touch from outside combined with active hands on defense. The Seminoles shot 57% on the deep ball, with Nickelberry, Watkins, Fletcher, and Green, Jr all hitting two threes. Meanwhile, the defense forced turnovers on 38% of Chippewa possessions.

With those kind of numbers, it was possible FSU could have been leading by 25 or even 30 at the break. But Central Michigan was able to beat FSU off the dribble enough when they weren’t turning it over to get into the paint and either showcase a crafty finish around the rim, grab their miss (50% offensive rebound rate), or get to the line (14 free throws to FSU’s 2).

Second Half:

The Seminoles came out of the locker room like they did to start the game, firing on all cylinders. And just like the first half, it was Corhen and Watkins doing the damage. Watkins began with back-to-back buckets at the rim, then Corhen said, “it’s my turn.” The sophmore had a dunk, an offensive rebound putback, a breakaway steal and dunk, and then capped it all with a pretty pass to Green, Jr who hit the three. That basket opened up FSU’s largest lead to that point at 63-35.

At that point the outcome of the game had been decided, but nobody told Watkins. The transfer continued to impact the game at both ends of the court. Just in the first 11 minutes of the second half he collected 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. After the Kennesaw State game, Michael and I discussed how he made major contributions despite having a tough shooting night. Well, in this game we witnessed what his game looks like when his shooting touch is on point and it is impressive.

Other Seminoles who made major dents in the box score included Green, Jr.’s 16 points on 4-9 shooting from deep, and Miller’s well-rounded stat line of 11 points, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 assists, and 3 steals. Nickelberry, Fletcher, and Corhen were the 4th, 5th, and 6th Seminoles scoring in double figures with 12, 10, and 10 respectively.

Box Score and Looking Ahead:

After two gimme games the competition ramps up significantly. The Seminoles travel down to Hog Town to face a talented University of Florida squad this Friday. If FSU is to have any chance at the win they will need to continue to be disruptive on defense, but also do a much better job clearing the defensive glass, where UF ranks 13th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.

Rogner and I previewed the game in depth on the latest episode of “The Gospel of Ham” so mash the link and check that out.