Florida State demolished Missouri to win the first annual Jacksonville Classic after walloping Loyola Marymount in the first round of the tournament. Loyola is no push-over either; they went on to beat a good SMU team the next game.
The Loyola game once again started off rough, as LMU opened the game on an 8-2 run in the first 1:30. A technical foul on Eli Scott seemed to spark something inside Florida State and they woke up, as Loyola didn't score a single point for the next 6 minutes and 37 for the rest of the entire game. FSU just smothered them with ball pressure and help defense, the Lions just didn't have an answer.
FSU's offense finally woke up in the second half, when they had a stretch in the early second half making 5 straight 3s. They were finally able to cash in on all of the open looks they had been generating all offseason. and cruised to a 73-45 win.
For the Missouri game, it was a continuation of the second half of the LMU game: constant defensive pressure, making your open shots, and making life miserable for the opponent, just sprinkling in some great ball movement. They were also able to cruise their way in this one to a 81-58 win.
Just to speak to FSU's dominance, they had a point differential of 51 points. In two games. That is absurd considering they weren't exactly playing scrubs.
Before we get to the plays, some box score notes.
FSU dominated on defense against Loyola, holding them to just 36.4% from the floor, and forcing them into 23 turnovers, which FSU turned into easy offense with 16 transition possessions. 14 steals and 6 blocks is a great way to really intimidate a team, and Loyola had three FSU jerseys on top of them on every drive. It also helps when LMU shoots just 7/16 from the free throw line.
Florida State looked so much better on offense because they stopped settling for the 3, and let the offense play inside out. There were many stretches, especially against Missouri, where an FSU drive would open up a look from 3. At times, FSU plays too much outside in, where they try and use the 3 to open up the driving lanes, but it really needs to be the other way around for this team.
For the Missouri game, it was more of the same: constant ball pressure creating easy offense for Florida State, but their offense was much smoother this game. Elite pocket passing, great shot making, and relentlessness on the offensive glass. Missouri isn't great, but FSU had double their score for most of the game, that doesn't happen by accident. They held Mizzou to 38.9% and forced 17 turnovers.
Missouri's Kobe Brown was held in check for the most part after coming off a 24-point outing against SMU, and "only" scored 13 points against the Seminoles. FSU's size was bothering him, well really everyone, just all tournament long.
Matthew Cleveland led FSU in scoring in the first game with 13 points on 6/8 shooting. He looks just so smooth in transition, and made some really tough shots in both games. He would add another 10 points in the second game.
Malik Osborne was his steady self all tournament, with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal in game 1, then following it up with 10 points and 7 rebounds in the second game. He's been phenomenal to start the season, and FSU is clearly relying on his veteran presence.
RayQuan Evans really struggled in the first game, but was awesome in the second, finishing with 8 points, 6 assists, and just 1 turnover. His passing was exquisite, as he was consistently driving, reading the defense, and making the right read on the drive to usually kick for an open shot. When he's spreading the ball around like this, it just takes FSU's offense to another level.
Anthony Polite was also much better in the 2nd game. He wasn't terrible in the first game with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, but he was much more comfortable against Missouri with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Hopefully, this means he's out of the slump he started the season in.
Jalen Warley was better in the first game than the second, John Butler showed flashes of why he's the true unicorn, and Cam'Ron Fletcher continued to wreak havoc on the defensive end of the floor and was elite in the second game with 12 points. For the most part, the newcomers continue to make massive strides.
The biggest concern I saw from the tournament was when LMU decided to press against FSU and most of the newcomers; FSU just looked lost at times. Guys weren't flashing to the correct spots or at the correct time, no one making themselves an easy target, and just bad passing. This is something I'm sure they'll practice over the coming weeks, and they'll need to get better at it fast.
On to the Plays!
With 2 games in 2 days, we'll be giving you three plays from both games. Enjoy!
Game 1, Play 1
Scenario: LMU's Technical
The Lions got off to a really hot start, and this capped it off. A contested 3 right in front of FSU's bench is a good way to really announce your arrival. Maybe just... don't yell an obscenity at the bench? Just an idea. Either way, it woke FSU up as mentioned earlier, as LMU wouldn't score again over the next 6 minutes of play.
Game 1, Play 2
Scenario: Cam'Ron Fletcher Volleyball Spike
Some plays, you just put in the highlight tape. This is one of the plays. Fletcher got beat bad on this great backdoor cut. A lot of teams/players just allow the open look. Most players are not Cam'Ron Fletcher though. The hustle to get back to this layup attempt and spike it all the way out to the 3-point line is... otherworldly. He's been such a pleasant surprise to start the season, and his effort and hustle is much needed.
Game 1, Play 3
Scenario: Transition 3 to Start 2nd Half
It's funny what happens when you make your open shots. Florida State has been generating open looks all season, just been struggling to hit them. You could tell this shot gave them a little bit of confidence. It's even more apparent when this was the first of 5 straight 3s FSU would hit. Florida State has talented shooters, it's about time they started showing up.
Game 2, Play 1
Scenario: Defensive Intensity Setting the Tone
Much like the first game, every drive from the opponent had multiple FSU jerseys around the ball-handler. FSU's defense was like purgatory; there was just no escape without the ball going the other way.
Game 2, Play 2
Scenario: Some Unicorn in Your Life
Just a reminder, John Butler is 7'1". He ran a pick and roll then hit a deep contested mid-range. This is so... unbelievable. He's been so much better than I thought he'd by this early on in his career, and he keeps showing flashes of just how much potential he has. Once he adds some weight to his frame and can bang down low, the entire ACC needs to watch out.
Game 2, Play 3
Scenario: NO. EASY. LAYUPS.
I mean... when will they learn.
It's one thing for FSU to contest every shot. It's another to block a transition layup when you're up 25 with 4 minutes left. This year's team just wants to play defense and loves doing it.
No rest for this team, FSU is right back at it on Wednesday evening to take on Boston U at home.