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Scottie Barnes leads No. 15 Florida State to win over Georgia Tech

Barnes’ 14 second-half points the difference in ACC opener.

Mike Olivella

Florida State opened up ACC conference play with a 74-61 win over Georgia Tech. The Seminoles were carried by their three-point shooting, as they hit 8 of 17 triples. The ‘Noles responded to a 15-0 run midway through the second half, as they dominated the paint late to pull away for the win. Florida State is now 4-0 for the fourth time in the last five years, after their 5th straight win over the Yellow Jackets.

The Seminoles got off to a slow offensive start for the second straight game, with five turnovers by the first media timeout. But FSU’s defense was up to the task early, as all three of Florida State’s starting guards had a steal by the first media timeout.

After the early struggles, the Seminoles found their stroke. Anthony Polite and Nathanael Jack got the Seminoles going with back-to-back threes out of the first media timeout, before Wyatt Wilkes drained a pair from the perimeter.

Florida State’s depth was present early, as the first six buckets were scored by six different players, including three bench scorers. The Seminoles opened up a quick 10-point lead, as Josh Pastner called a timeout with 11:52 remaining in the half.

Jordan Usher kept the Yellow Jackets in the game early. The senior forward started the game 4-5 from the field, including two deep balls for 10 early points. His second triple of the game made it a three-point deficit at the U-8 media timeout. Each team was sloppy with the ball early, with seven turnovers each through the first 12 minutes.

Early this season, FSU has seemingly turned to Polite whenever it needed a shot to stop a drought. After making one early, he repeated that late in the half with another triple, giving the Seminoles a 27-23 lead at the final media timeout. After the TO, Wilkes drained his third three-pointer of the half to extend the lead to seven.

The Seminoles went into half up 36-29, led by 18 bench points, 11 coming from the hot hand of Wilkes. The Seminoles drained six of 11 triples and shot 52% from the field. Florida State only shot one free throw in the half. GT shot 55% from the field, but was just 3-10 from deep and posted a 28% turnover rate. Georgia Tech also grabbed just one offensive board.

After a quiet first half, Scottie Barnes opened the scoring for FSU after the break with a floater in the lane. M.J. Walker drilled a corner three for his first triple of the night to give the Seminoles a 12-point lead and force a second GT timeout.

FSU made six of its first seven shots in the second half to extend the lead to 16 points with 13 minutes remaining. But after the hot start, the Seminoles went ice cold, helping Georgia Tech catch fire with scores in transition. Florida State missed four straight shots, while the Yellow Jackets made four straight to go on a 15-0 run in just 2:19. The torrid run by GT closed the gap to one with 9:38 remaining.

Barnes was conspicuously absent for the entire 15-0 run, but he looked determined to swing the momentum when he got back in. Barnes ended the run with an emphatic right-handed dunk just before the shot clock expired:

Barnes followed the dunk with his second floater of the half. Two Balsa Koprivica free throws put the Seminoles up five after the U-8 media timeout.

Walker had one of his quieter nights, but drilled the big shot when Florida State needed it late. Walker nailed an open corner three off an extra pass from Barnes to give the Seminoles a nine-point lead with just over five minutes remaining.

After their torrid run halfway through the half, the Yellow Jackets struggled to find the bottom of the net over the final stretch of the game. The Yellow Jackets missed seven straight field goals over a five-minute span late, while Florida State feasted in the paint. FSU made six of its last ten shots to close out the win convincingly.

Barnes led the way with 16 points on 6-10 shooting (14 on 5-6 in 2H), while adding 6 rebounds. Koprivica quietly had a strong night, as well, posting 10 points and 8 rebounds (ties the career high he set vs. Indiana Hoosiers earlier this season). Meanwhile, Polite posted his second straight double-digit game with 10 points.

FSU finished the night shooting 53%. The Seminoles out-rebounded the Yellow Jackets by six boards, importantly keeping the visitors off the offensive glass. The Yellow Jackets shot just 25% from beyond the arc, which made the difference in the game.

The Seminoles next face off against UCF, tipping off in the Tucker Center on Saturday at 9:00 PM.