On Sunday, the Seminoles dismantled the Loyola Marymount Lions while the Tigers fought back to defeat the SMU Mustangs in overtime. For those interested, LMU bested SMU for third place. LMU could be a tier 2 win for Florida State by season’s end.
Leonard Hamilton’s crew came out determined to set a fast tempo, and the Tigers struggled to adapt throughout the first half.
The Seminoles got off to a strong 9-2 start behind the maniacal effort and hustle of Tanor Ngom. Mizzou tried to claw back, but strong defense and nice shooting from Anthony Polite, Matthew Cleveland, and Malik Osborne kept the Seminoles comfortably in front. The swarming defense had Cuonzo Martin’s Tigers out of sorts, forcing numerous poor shots, and it seemed the underdogs were intimidated by the Seminole bigs down low.
Mizzou finished the first half with 13 turnovers and shot 9-22 (41%) from the field, including 2-9 from three. Nine Seminoles scored before intermission, as the ‘Noles shot a blistering 18-28 (64%) from the field, including 5-11 from three. Polite scored nine points to pace FSU, with Cleveland and Osborne each contributing eight. FSU dished out 10 assists to Mizzou’s three, and also accumulated seven steals.
The second half saw the Seminoles continue to dictate their pace, with Ngom yet again making plays on offense and keeping possessions alive with his hustle. The Seminoles pushed the lead to 27 with 16+ minutes remaining before the officials made their presence known, throwing off the flow for FSU.
The Seminoles weathered an 11-3 run by the Tigers, with Cam’Ron Fletcher and Cleveland playing large roles in FSU holding a commanding 22 point lead with 8:36 to go. The ‘Noles kept things comfortable and ended the game giving the Green Vipers the final three minutes.
Malik Osborne won the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Polite led the Seminoles with 14 points, with Cam’Ron Fletcher adding 12. Osborne notched 10 points and seven rebounds, while RayQuan Evans chipped in eight points and six assists.
The Seminoles trotted out a starting five of RayQuan Evans, Caleb Mills, Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, and Tanor Ngom. Mizzou started Amari Davis, Javon Pickett, Damian Gordon, Kobe Brown, and Jordan Wilmore.
Ngom snagged a defensive rebound off Mizzou’s first possession, which led to Evans-to-Polite for three to open up the scoring. Ngom then had a ferocious block on Wilmore, narrowly missed a three pointer, and then took a charge on the other end, igniting the Seminole bench. Crazy hustle by Ngom to start the game.
Mills was fouled on the next drive, hitting 1 of 2. Ngom then broke up pass attempt, ultimately leading to a steal by Polite, and an Evans layup. Missouri’s Kobe Brown hit a midrange jumper, but Osborne drilled a long range three to answer. 9-2 FSU with 16:50 left. John Butler forced Mizzou into a turnover, but Warley gave it right back. He continues to pass up open shots. Wyatt Wilkes knocked down a long, late-clock trey following a timeout, while the Tigers answered with a bucket down low by Wilmore. Cleveland got a jumper to fall after some fancy ball-handling, but Mizzou countered with a layup by Amari Davis. Wilkes then found a streaking Cleveland for a dunk. Davis knocked down a three for Mizzou, making it 16-10 FSU with 12:14 to play in the first. Cleveland ripped the ball out of the hands of a Tiger, pushed down court and was rewarded with a trip to the line, where he hit both freebies. Following a Mizzou miss, Evans dropped a nice dime to Osborne for a layup. The ‘Noles forced the Tigers into another poor shot attempt and Osborne struck again, nailing a triple to push the lead to 23-10 with 10:45 remaining. Strike up the Warchant during the ensuing Mizzou timeout!
Off a turnover, a streaking Warley sunk a contested layup and then, following a Mills steal on the inbound, Fletcher slammed it home, leaving the Tigers searching for their souls and staring at a 17-point deficit with 9:30 to go:
The Tigers finally got on the board with a triple, but Polite quickly answered with a bucket. He scored another lay-in off a nice pass by Butler, giving FSU a 31-15 advantage heading into the under-8 media timeout. Following a defensive miscommunication, Polite drove down the lane for a tomahawk jam.
Anthony not so Polite.— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) November 23, 2021
Nice to see from him in the half-court!
Mizzou threw the ball away on the next possession and Evans made them pay with a triple. Caleb Mills struck with a layup following another Tiger turnover. Davis and Brown then scored four quick points for Mizzou, as the ‘Noles got sloppy for a stretch, with the next media timeout coming at 3:29, which saw FSU doubling up Mizzou, 38-19. Fletcher stole a pass and threw down a breakaway tomahawk dunk, to be answered by a Kobe Brown bucket on the other end.
Cleveland weaved his way through the entire Mizzou roster to convert a running floater, making it 42-21 ‘Noles with 1:45 remaining. Quincy Ballard put home a Mills miss, with Davis hitting a midrange jumper in response to close out the first half scoring.
FSU 44, Missouri 23 at the half.
The second half opened with the same starting five and the same fast-paced tempo dictated by the ‘Noles. Mills fed Ngom for a two-handed slam off a beautiful no-look pass to open the scoring. Davis answered with a bucket, but following Ngom keeping the possession alive twice with great hustle, Polite drilled another trey. A Mizzou lay-in was answered by a long two from Butler. Polite then notched a steal, resulting in a lay-in for Evans. Following two free throws for Evans, FSU held a 54-27 advantage with 16:37 remaining. The refs then inserted themselves into the game, whistling the ‘Noles for three quick fouls and impacting FSU’s flow. This contributed to an 11-3 run by Mizzou before Fletcher knocked down an open triple to give FSU a 60-38 lead with 11:39 left. Fletcher dunked following sloppy possessions by both teams, only to be answered by a Kobe Brown triple.
Cleveland found Osborne for a dunk with a perfect bounce pass, and followed that up by slamming home a dunk on the next possession. Davis hit another three for Mizzou to cut the Seminole lead to 66-44 with 8:36 to go. Polite knocked down another jumper before FSU was whistled for its seventh foul of the half (to Mizzou’s two) with 6:51 remaining. Following two free throws by the Tigers, Mills knocked down a three-pointer, earned a standing ovation from the pro-FSU crowd for an excellent block after not giving up on a turnover, then hit a floater in the lane.
Caleb Mills says “not in my house, Tiger.”— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) November 23, 2021
Fletcher sunk a triple to push the score to 76-48 with 3:45 remaining. The entire end of the Seminole bench entered the game with 2:36 to go, and the Seminoles finished off their quest for the Jacksonville Classic championship with a three ball from Harrison Prieto, and a jumper from Justin Lindner. It should be noted that no one cheered louder than the stars on the bench.
Final score: FSU 81, Missouri 58
Anthony Polite: 14 points
Cam’Ron Fletcher: 12 points
Matthew Cleveland: 10 points, 4 rebounds
Malik Osborne: 10 points, 7 rebounds
RayQuan Evans: 8 points, 6 assists
Up Next: FSU will return to the Tucker Center to host the Boston University Terriers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on the ACC Network.