Continuing its recent dominance over the University of Miami (FL), Florida State traveled down south and smoked the Hurricanes 88-71, in a game the Seminoles could’ve won by 40. The win is FSU’s 7th straight over the ‘Canes, and the Noles’ 9th win in their last 10 games this season, keeping them comfortably in first place of the ACC standings (see below).
For most people, the coverage of this game was delayed due to Tony Bennett dragging out a third consecutive loss for his Virginia Cavaliers, this time at home to a mediocre NC State Wolfpack squad. When the feed finally flipped to the game in Coral Gables, Florida State already led Miami 12-6. The play-by-play tells me RaiQuan Gray came out the way you’d want your star player hailing from south Florida to play against Miami, scoring six of FSU’s first 10, while adding three rebounds and a block.
The margin would only grow wider.
Despite playing without M.J. Walker (tendonitis) and Tanor Ngom, the Seminoles were still able to throw waves of bodies at the Hurricanes early and often. Sardaar Calhoun was particularly impressive in the first half, dropping in a dozen points on 5-6 shooting and displaying an array of skills on both sides of the ball, including a deep three from the edge of the halfcourt logo.
Speaking of made threes, Nathaniel Jack and Anthony Polite combined for a triplet of deep shots in a two and a half minute span, stretching the Noles’ lead out to 25-8. It would grow to 27-8 on a Scottie Barnes jumper before FSU relaxed for a bit, allowing Miami to go on a 7-0 mini-run. However, Balsa Koprivica and Calhoun combined to score 11 of FSU’s next 14 points, and just like that the lead was 41-22.
Even freshman center Quincy Ballard got in on the act, putting in a second-chance layup and then throwing down an alley-oop off a beautiful feed from Barnes, one of six dimes in 11 first-half minutes for the star freshman who also hails from south Florida. When the halftime horn sent the players to the locker room, Florida State was one point shy of half-a-hundred and enjoyed a comfortable 21 point lead (49-28 for those of you struggling to do the math).
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for Seminole fans. Malik Osborne came down awkwardly after skying for a rebound and appeared to be in significant pain as he was helped off the court. There wasn’t early word on the severity of the injury, but he did not return to the game.
The biggest intrigue in the second half was stat watching, as Gray and Barnes potentially could’ve had triple-doubles if the game was closer, while Miami’s Isaiah Wong was a one-man scoring machine for the home side. FSU’s margin fluctuated between 17 and 23 for most of the final 20 minutes and both teams looked like they had accepted the outcome long before the final whistle. As one would imagine, things got a bit sloppy at times, but it was good to see guys like Ballard get extended minutes.
On the subject of stat-watching, there were some pretty impressive ones in this game. The craziest of all is bench scoring. With just over 6 minutes left, FSU’s bench had outscored Miami’s 50-0. Fifty to nothing! That margin would finish at 57-5 as the Vipers added some points of their own.
Overall, 10 Seminoles scratched the scoring column, including Gray, Polite, Koprivica, and Calhoun all in double figures, with Calhoun’s 16 leading the way and representing a new career-high. Gray finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists (the rebounds and assists were career-highs), giving him yet another double-double (his third in the last six games). Barnes finished with 8 points, a career-high 8 assists, and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes, and, importantly, no Seminole played more than 26 minutes.
Ultimately, I’m not sure there’s much to take from this game, but it’s nice to see FSU go on the road and do what it should do—destroy a bad team. However, if Osborne ends up missing multiple games, the price for the win will be pretty high.
Florida State travels to Chapel Hill to face an improving North Carolina Tar Heels squad (notwithstanding their Wednesday night loss to a below-average Marquette team) Saturday at 4:00 pm. The Carolina big men would figure to give FSU quite a few problems if the Noles are without Osborne and Ngom.