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No. 22 FSU basketball opens season with win over North Florida

Ospreys struggle with Seminoles’ defensive length, depth.

Mike Olivella

Florida State opened its season with a 86-58 win over the North Florida Ospreys. The Seminoles struggled shooting the ball, but FSU’s defensive length and depth off the bench was enough for a blowout victory. Even when they struggle to shoot the ball, Leonard Hamilton’s squad should give any team a tough time with their length and depth. As the rhythm and cohesion continues to develop (Seminoles played their first game against a team with three under their belt), Florida State’s offense should be just fine.

Florida State attacked the paint early and often. The Seminoles first four buckets all came on easy layups after good passing from the perimeter. The length of FSU’s starting five caused havoc from the start, as North Florida had four turnovers in the first four minutes.

Leonard Hamilton displayed his depth almost immediately, as 10 different Seminoles touched the court just five minutes into the season. Sardaar Calhoun showed off his scoring ability early in his FSU debut.

The JUCO-transfer made his first two shots, including the Seminoles’ first three-pointer of the season. M.J. Walker followed Calhoun’s three with a deep ball of his own, as the ‘Noles opened up a 19-5 lead after just seven minutes.

The senior showed early why he’s a national breakout candidate, and the Seminoles’ leader. Florida State went on a three minute scoring drought midway through the first half, but a Walker three kicked FSU back into gear. An and-1 from Balsa Koprivica off an offensive rebound gave the Seminoles a 27-13 lead out of the U-8 media timeout.

Florida State took a 36-21 lead into the half behind suffocating defense and depth. 10 Seminoles scored in the half, while UNF turned the ball over 13 times. 10 of FSU’s 14 first-half buckets came via assist. They also out-rebounded the Ospreys 21-12. Walker led the way with eight points, while RaiQuan Gray posted three steals, Scottie Barnes dished out four assists, and Koprivica blocked two shots.

Walker continued his hot shooting after intermission, as the senior drilled his third three of the night to open the second half scoring for the Seminoles. Florida State opened up a 21-point lead at the first media timeout after a tomahawk slam from Gray:

However, the Ospreys clawed their way back into the game after the dunk, as FSU started to stall offensively. The Seminoles made just 5-20 shots to start the half, allowing the Ospreys to cut the deficit to 13 at the U-12 media timeout. The visitors continued to be a nuisance as they found their stroke from three. UNF made six of 11 threes to open the second half, shrinking Florida State’s lead to 11 with just over eight minutes remaining.

Florida State started to show some offensive life soon after, as a behind-the-back, Euro-step, slam dunk from freshman phenom Barnes sparked the ‘Noles. The Seminoles ripped off an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 19 with 6:42 remaining:

UNF kept itself in the game, as the Ospreys cut the lead down to 14 at the final media timeout of the game (they stayed red hot from behind the arc). But the second half success from deep was too little, too late for North Florida. FSU was just too much down the stretch, as the Seminoles outscored the Ospreys by 14 points over the last three minutes.

Walker led the Seminoles with an efficient 17 points, shooting 4-8 from the field and 6-6 from the charity stripe. Barnes led Florida State in both rebounds and assists (six of each), while adding eight points in his college debut. Koprivica also had a good opening night, posting 13 points and five rebounds. Gray added eight points to go along with a game-high four steals.