Florida State continued its trend of winning ugly on Monday evening when it improved to 5-0 on the season with a 67-55 victory over Western Illinois in the second round of the Global Sports Classic.
"I am pleased that we are 5-0," head coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game. "I am concerned that we tend to have stretches in every game where we are not executing like I would like."
On Monday night, that stretch struck during the second half. Florida State had jumped out to a 34-20 lead in the first half behind 10 points from senior forward Uche Echefu and extended that lead to 24 points with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game. Then, when the Seminoles turned to a younger, inexperienced lineup, they stalled out and allowed the lead to shrink back to single digits.
With 58 seconds remaining in the game, the Leathernecks narrowed the lead to eight points on a Rodney Williams Jr. jumper. A pair of free throws from Ryan Reid and Jordan DeMercy combined with a defensive stop extended the Seminole lead to the final margin.
The Seminoles were led in scoring by Echefu and freshman center Solomon Alabi, who scored 12 points each. Chris Singleton added 10 points and nine rebounds. FSU played a total of 10 players for 11 minutes or more on the evening, which included a second half that frequently saw three to four freshmen on the floor together.
"One of our goals tonight was to get as many guys as many minutes as possible," Hamilton said. "We got 11 or 12 guys some minutes tonight. We got up 24 there in the second half, probably very well could have left our starters in but we wanted to get as many of our young guys as much experience as possible."
Florida State will now travel to Las Vegas where the Seminoles will face Cincinnati (4-0) in the third round of the Global Sports Classic on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET. In order to remain undefeated, Florida State will have to show an improved effort against the Bearcats.
"I think we have accomplished our mission in these earlier games," Hamilton said. "This team is by no means even close to reaching their full potential. We still are making a lot of miscues that young guys do make. If we keep working at it, I am sure that we will improve."