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No. 20 FSU basketball’s offense falters in loss to Florida

First loss to the Gators in eight years.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Florida Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Gainesville, FL- Florida State’s basketball seven-game winning streak over the Florida Gators after a 71-55 loss in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon. The Seminoles’ offense was sluggish for the majority of the afternoon and Florida came to life late in the game. The Seminoles led with just over 10 minutes left, but were outscored 28-11 over the final 10:14. FSU shot just 38% and got a combined four points from Anthony Polite and Caleb Mills. The ‘Noles also gave up 17 offensive boards and 16 second chance points.

For the second straight game, the Seminoles were without center Tanor Ngom due to a concussion. With Ngom out, Malik Osborne got the start at the five. Florida’s Anthony Duruji drew two early fouls and scored four straight points to put the Gators up 4-2 early. Caleb Mills picked up two fouls within the first three minutes and didn’t see any action the rest of the half.

The Seminoles couldn’t get any offense going early. Florida State missed their first seven shots, as the Gators suffocated FSU on the defensive end. UF began to rack up offensive boards early, leading to four second chance points. At the first media timeout, the Gators led 8-2 and the ‘Noles were yet to make a shot.

Cam’Ron Fletcher made a floater in the lane for the Seminoles’ first made basket after the break. The Seminoles missed three of four free throws, including two misses from Matthew Cleveland, over the next few minutes. At the under-12 media timeout, FSU trailed 10-5. They were shooting 10% from the field and 50% from the charity stripe.

Despite missing 10 of their first 11 shots, the Seminoles’ deficit was just five points. Cleveland bounced back from the missed free throws and quickly cut that deficit to one with back-to-back layups. John Butler tied the game at 12 with his first career triple, a wide open corner three off an assist from Osborne. Duruji responded with a three of his own, but Butler made another triple to even the game at 15. A Florida layup made it a 17-15 UF lead at the U8 media timeout.

Coming off a career high in his FSU career, Osborne was quiet in the box score early. He quickly changed that out of the timeout. The senior hit a long step-back two out of the timeout to re-tie the game, before hitting a corner triple to give the ‘Noles a 20-17 lead.

FSU had a chance to extend their lead, but squandered it at the free throw line. Evans made just one of two, before Osborne missed the front-end of a one-and-one. Osborne bounced back with an alley-oop slam off a Fletcher pass in transition.

Elijah Kennedy trimmed Florida State’s lead to one at the final media timeout of the half with a wide open three-pointer. It was Florida’s second make in 10 tries from beyond the arc.

Senior Myreon Jones hit a triple to put the lead back in the Gators’ hands. It was his first make in seven tries. Florida State’s veterans turned it on after the three to flip the lead back in FSU’s hands at the half. Evans and Osborne both made floaters to regain the lead. Osborne hit a triple in the face of Colin Castleton to up his first half total to 12.

The Seminoles went into the half with a 30-28 lead. FSU shot 44% in the half and made 10 of their last 14 attempts. Each team had six turnovers. UF had six second chance points off eight offensive rebounds. Osborne led all scorers with 12 on 5-7 shooting.

FSU’s offensive momentum cooled off after their trip to the locker room. The ‘Noles missed their first five shots of the second half. Four points from Castleton gave the Gators the lead. FSU’s first points of the half came on two Osborne free throws. Wyatt Wilkes stripped Brandon Mckissic of the ball, leading to a transition triple for Wilkes in the corner, his first of the night. Mckissic returned the favor with a triple of his own to tie the game at 35 at the first media timeout of the second half.

The pace picked up over the next four minutes, with each team making three baskets. Anthony Polite made his first basket with 13:14 remaining to give FSU a two-point lead. UF went into the U12 media timeout with a one-point lead after Phlandrous Fleming Jr. made his first triple.

After Evans passed up an open three, which led to a turnover, Castleton picked up an offensive board and laid it home for second chance points. Despite forcing three turnovers in less than two minutes, FSU could only grab one bucket. After that, the game got away from them. Mckissic drilled a three to make it a six-point game. The ‘Noles than got foul-happy, leading to four straight UF free throws. Fleming Jr. then made a layup to go up 12 and cap a 13-0 run, which took just over two minutes.

Cleveland made a triple to stop the bleeding and cut the deficit to single digits, but the Gators roared right back. Two free throws and a steal and score by Duruji gave UF their biggest lead of the game at 13 points. The ‘Noles cut the deficit to 10, but couldn’t control the Gators on the glass. Four straight second chance points gave UF a 64-50 lead at the final media timeout.

Out of the media timeout, Tyree Appleby put the dagger in Florida State with a corner three to go up 17. The ‘Noles scored just .694 points per possession in the second half. They turned the ball over at the same rate they scored in the half.

Leonard Hamilton post-game:

“I thought they played with a lot more connectivity than us. Even from the beginning of the game, I could tell our youthful inexperience was showing.”

“They had a lot more juice than we did in everything we did.”

“Absolutely no idea when Tanor (Ngom) is going to be back. We are not going to rush him.”

“I thought that early on in the first half, I thought Florida did a really good job closing out on (Anthony Polite and Caleb Mills) and creating indecision.”

Malik Osborne:

“The biggest thing is that they executed. They played harder, they wanted it more... They were a team that clearly wanted it more, had more pride than us.”

“Knowing what it takes to win on the road, to compete on the road... I’d say that’s the biggest teaching moment.”

Up next: Florida State will be back at home on Wednesday to face Tulane. The game is scheduled for 8:00 PM and will be televised on ACC Network.