They fell 66-65 and drop to 5-4 on the season.
The Seminoles came into a neutral site game having lost back-to-back matchups to Purdue and Syracuse. They attacked the rim early and played an incredible press right off the tip. Caleb Mills and John Butler started the game as the Seminoles leading scorers with eight combined points in the first four minutes. The Noles played some of their best help defense this season, closing the gap on the perimeter and making sure the lob pass to the middle is contested with two players.
They led by as many as 16 points as head coach Leonard Hamilton plugged in eight players to give the Seminoles different jab combinations. The Noles started 3-4 from distance with incredible ball movement. Butler and Osborne played through the elbow and helped get players like Warley and Polite some very easy looks. Their key to drawing fouls and getting the ball within four feet of the hoop was back door screens and sharp baseline cuts that were basically nonexistent in the second half.
Once the Noles were introduced to South Carolina’s 2-3 zone, Florida State was very hesitant to shoot the ball and had little to no movement within 15 feet of the basket. Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin had his men set up a zone defense as well as a 2-2-1 press off made shots and went into man defense off missed opportunities.
Florida State closed the half up 36-30 after their offense collapses in the final minutes of the first half. Butler led all scorers with eight points on 12 first-half minutes. Osborne, Butler and McLeod were active on the glass, picking up 20 boards in the first.
The Gamecocks ended the half with a 12-3 run as players like Cleveland, Fletcher and Wilkes caused some very troubling fouls and couldn’t get the ball to fall in the basket. Their guards started to get more comfortable with the Noles length and used the help defense to their advantage to get the ball within scoring distance.
South Carolina hit the first punch with a three-ball on the first possession of the half to cut the lead down to 36-33. The Seminoles kept their lead as they broke the Gamecocks press with ease and helped get Osborne and company wide-open looks. They were thrown a 2-3 zone, man-on-man help defense and 2-2-1 press that started to get too much to handle for a Florida State team that’s still finding their identity on the offensive end.
Midway through the second half South Carolina’s James Reese went on a solo 8-0 run to give the Gamecocks their first lead since 6-4. After they finally got the lead, they never looked back. Freshman Devin Carter had a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds. Carter was able to use his strength to penetrate the paint and get some very appealing looks around the basket. As soon as he got his confidence South Carolina's offense had a very good flow in the half-court.
When FSU was desperate for someone to step up, Mills and Butler were quiet and scoring was extremely hard to come by. Butler was never able to find his rhythm and earned zero points and one rebound in the second half. Mills finished the game with 13 points to go along with three rebounds and two steals. While it looked like Jalen Warley and Naheem McLeod were definite contributors in the first half, they were never ready to put the same production in the second.
FSU has the same defensive identity with a deep roster that can play 8/10 people but their offensive woes have caused the Seminoles multiple games. Osborne and Mills have led this team throughout the first quarter of the season but if they want to be considered a top ACC team the development of freshman and offensive confidence needs to speed up.
Next Game: Florida States hosts Lipscomb University on December 15th at 9:00 ET. The game will be featured on the ACC Network.