(Photo of MJ Walker, David Johnson: Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A sluggish first half proved to be too much to over come for Louisville, as they fell 78-72 to Miami in Coral Gables. Next up for the Cardinals, they will return home and host Miami's Sunshine State counterparts in the Florida State Seminoles. Tipoff is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 18 at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Cardinals' matchup with the Seminoles:
Death, Taxes, Leonard Hamilton
Over the last five or so years, head coach Leonard Hamilton has turned his Seminoles into a well-oiled machine. After just two 25-win seasons in his first 14 years in Tallahassee, he has accomplished that mark in three of his last four seasons, culminating in a league championship for the 2019-20 season.
Even after losing three high-caliber starters to both the NBA and graduation, the Noles have almost completely picked up where they left off. Picked to finish third in the ACC, Florida State currently sports a 7-2 record (3-1 ACC), and has already assembled a solid NCAA Tournament resume.
They have three home wins against Indiana, in-state rival Florida and North Carolina, three teams that are ranked in the top 40 according to KenPom, with one of their two losses coming against Clemson, who possibly has an argument for best team in the ACC.
Firing On All Offensive Cylinders
Historically under Leonard Hamilton, the Noles more typically been more regarded for their defense than their offense. Well, this season, the script has been flipped.
Florida State boasts the 11th most efficient offense in Division I, which leads the Atlantic Coast Conference. Among the 15 teams in the league, the Seminoles shoot the three ball better than anyone else (38.2%), connect on 52.0% of their shots inside the perimeter, culminating in having the second-best effective field goal percentage (54.0%) in the conference.
Need any more proof? Well, take FSU's game vs. NC State back on Jan. 13 for example. Even after coming off of a 15-day break due to COVID-19 within the program, the Noles shot 70.7% from the field to set a school record in an ACC game. Their 66.7 percent mark from three tied for the second-best in an ACC game, and their perfect 11-11 night from the free throw line marked the third time in program history that FSU connected on all their free throw attempts on at least 10 attempts in conference play.
Two and a Half Men
Most of Florida State's three-point shooting prowess has come at the hands of their veteran backcourt.
Guards MJ Walker & Anthony Polite are the only players on FSU's roster to connect on double-digit three pointers, and each one is shooting over 40.0% with Polite leading the team at 53.3% from the perimeter. Walker & Polite are two of the three leading scorers for the Seminoles, averaging 16.3 & 9.6 points per game, respectively.
As impactful as the two upperclassmen have been, Scottie Barnes has a legitimate case to win ACC Rookie of the Year for his role in Florida State's success. The freshman is second in scoring with 11.1 points per game, has the most steals per game at 1.5, and his assist rate (assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court) of 34.1% not only leads the ACC, but is 40th in D1.
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