The first half was the greatest basketball we’ve seen from Florida State this season. The defense was getting turnovers and getting out in transition, Florida was missing the easy looks, Darin Green was hitting every shot he took, Matthew Cleveland had confidence, Colin Castleton was being contained, Caleb Mills was being aggressive, guys that weren’t expected to play were playing… it’s crazy how fast it can all change.
Despite being up 43-26 at halftime, I had a slightly uneasy feeling. While the score was great, Florida missed a ton of easy looks. You couldn’t count on them to go 1/12 from 3 or 4/10 on layups again. A strong first four minutes was something both teams were looking for… Florida answered the call. They came out of halftime on a roaring 30-5 run over the first 10 minutes of the half, including a 12-3 run in the first four minutes of the half. Florida took advantage of an FSU team that was playing lazy with the ball and was cowering just a little bit, afraid of getting punched in the mouth. The lead would get as high as 11 with about 10 minutes left before FSU started to chip their way back into it, they could just never get all the way back, and are now 0-4 for the first time since 1959 as they would fall 76-67.
Those free throws are a huge difference. UF was 25/31 from the stripe while FSU was 14/15. While it’s a great and encouraging percentage , Florida just continued to get to the line in the second half, shooting 21 of their total FTs came in the final 20 minutes.
Despite having just 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 0 blocks in the first half, Colin Castleton was a huge reason Florida came back in this game. He’s such a steady presence down low, and it’s no mistake he finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds and a block.
As good as Matthew Cleveland was in the first half, he couldn’t quite get it going in the second half. At the break, he had 10 points, 6 rebounds, and was 4/4 from the charity stripe. In the second half, he had just 4 points.
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The real reason Florida State lost this game was turnovers. Florida was pressuring heavily coming out of the break, and FSU simply couldn’t handle it early on. Having just 5 turnovers as a team in the first half, they would cough it up 11 times in the final 20 minutes, leading to 15 Florida points. They did a good job rebounding in the first half, taking a 20-17 rebounding advantage into the break, but it was a much different story in the second half, as UF out-rebounded the ‘Noles 25-12 in the second half, including grabbing 8 second half offensive rebounds that led to 11 second chance points.
As a team in the second half, FSU shot just 33.3% from the floor, 0/10 from 3, and scored just .585 points per possession (24 total points). Meanwhile, Florida was 51.6% from the floor, 2/5 from 3, and scored 1.316 points per possession (50 points). Sums it all up right there.
Somehow, Florida State is going to have to regroup from this. Naheem McLeod came back from injury much sooner than we thought he would, and we saw Chandler Jackson and De’Ante Green check in for the first time in their careers. FSU is starting to get healthy, bet they need to start getting wins.
The ‘Noles are back home Monday when they play Mercer at 6:30.
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