FSU wins 75-67 over Minnesota; 'Noles improve to 6-1
BOX SCORE: Florida State 75, Minnesota 67
It's been a while. As in nearly a decade. But with a 75-67 win over Minnesota, the Florida State men's basketball team ended its drought Monday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the Tucker Center.
The last time FSU (6-1) won a ACC/Big Ten Challenge game came Nov. 27, 2007 when it beat Minnesota (6-1). It's a slightly odd statistic considering FSU picked up a 72-61 win over Illinois in its most recent game last weekend.
"Thought Minnesota did a good job of controlling the tempo in the first half," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We were not able to get out and get involved in the transition game even though we held them to a low field goal percentage."
Poor shooting and fouls slowed both teams early yet the Seminoles eventually wore down the Gophers. FSU opened the second half on an 11-3 run and parlayed it into a 23-9 start for a 54-42 lead.
Yet what may have been the game's most defining play came with the Seminoles already well ahead. Dwayne Bacon, who led all scorers with 18 points, lost his footing and then the ball.
Freshman Trent Forrest was quick to grab the ball and had the wherewithal to make a no-look, behind-the-back pass to a wide open Jonathan Isaac for an easy slam dunk. Isaac's dunk gave FSU a 58-47 lead with 8:29 left in the half.
Isaac finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals while going 5 of 10 from the floor.
"I was definitely going to pass it anyways," Bacon said. "So I mean once I slipped and I was on the ground, I didn't even know Trent passed it. I saw Jonathan dunking and I was like, 'Wow. This is crazy' because the crowd got involved. Everybody got intense and we just bought in on defense."
The Gophers were held to 32.2 percent from the floor yet the Seminoles went about it in different ways. First-half foul troubles slowed both teams and no one could really get into a rhythm.
Hamilton said pressuring Gophers guard Nate Mason became the focal point. Mason, who scored 11 points and three assists, was no longer controlling the offense and it forced the Gophers to find another facilitator.
Finding that rhythm broke the doldrums from a first half when FSU and Minnesota combined for 28 first half fouls. The constant disruptions prevented either team from sustaining anything close to a run. Minnesota had two stretches when it scored seven unanswered points.
"I got a lot of respect for that team," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "Coach Hamilton does a good job of just forcing you to make plays and taking you out of your offense."
The Seminoles had a 5-0 run to open the game and another 5-0 spot for a 17-12 edge with 11:02 remaining.
Neither team really capitalized when they did have chances. FSU shot 34.6 percent from the field and were 1 of 9 for 11.7 percent from 3. Minnesota was no better. The Gophers shot 29.2 percent from 24 shots and were 33 percent from 12 3-pointers.
"We just wanted someone else to run the offense other than Mason," Hamilton said. "He was doing such a great job. He's an excellent ballhandler and he's a very good scorer. We followed him through his career in high school.
"He was determined that he was going to keep the game at the pace that was best for them. Once we started rotating and creating some situations where someone else had to initiate the offense, we got into a different rhythm."