Freshman Isaac leads balanced attack in FSU's 99-78 win over Iona
Nine players logged more than 15 minutes. Six scored more than 10 points with talented freshman Jonathan Isaac scoring 20 on an efficient 6 of 8 from the floor.
The Florida State men's basketball team appears to have depth, something that hurt the Seminoles toward the end of last season. Having a full roster gave FSU several defensive and offensive advantages in a 99-78 win over Iona on Tuesday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
"Once again, I think the thing I was most pleased with was the quality of our depth," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "It allowed us to sustain our effort and we were able to keep people fresh. We were able to make the adjustments necessary to play against their style."
* Warchant Extra: Observations on individual players, team from Tuesday's win
Iona is a team that likes to spread the floor. Close to 44 percent of the team's field goal attempts in 2015-16 were 3-pointers. To defend Iona meant limiting centers Christ Koumadje and Michael Ojo to a combined 12 minutes.
The move worked. Iona was 9 of 31 for 29 percent from beyond the arc. As a whole, the Gaels shot 37.3 percent.
FSU also forced 14 turnovers and recorded seven steals.
"For me, Coach was just trying to get me to lock No. 23 up," Seminoles senior forward Jarquez Smith said of the Gaels' Jordan Washington. "He's one of their best scorers. The only challenge for me today was to take him out of his rhythm."
Washington was held to 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He only played 16 minutes due to foul trouble.
That left guard Sam Cassell Jr. as Iona' main option. The son of former FSU great Sam Cassell, he scored a game-high 28 points.
"It's my father's team, so I wanted to beat them so I could talk trash," Cassell Jr. said. "But it is what it is."
Even with Cassell's big night, the Seminoles' defense proved to be too much. Iona could never get within striking distance, with the most narrow margin in the second half being 11 points.
Really, the Seminoles put the game away in the first half. They took a 24-18 lead with around eight minutes left in the period but went on a 13-3 run for a 37-21 lead with 5:15 remaining. FSU's run was powered in a variety of ways.
Junior forward Phil Cofer started the stretch with a lay-up and free throw. Sophomore forward Terance Mann followed by scoring four straight off a jumper and an uncontested dunk. Then, Smith nailed a jumper. All of this happened before the Gaels could make a single basket.
"I thought it took us a minute to realize they were playing an unconventional-type defense," Hamilton said. "We had to settle in and keep moving the ball and getting the ball inside."
Hamilton said he was pleased with his team's efficiency. FSU finished 34 of 59 from the field (57.6 percent).
Isaac led the way in his 23 minutes of work. Cofer was second with 13 points while Smith and Mann scored 12. Sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon and freshman guard Trent Forrest each scored 10.
Yet with all the scoring options on display, the focus was still on defense and making better decisions.
Hamilton, although happy with the win, lamented the fact his team committed 20 turnovers to just 10 assists.
"From my standpoint, everyone's more talkative at pointing their man out," Bacon said, when comparing last year's team to FSU's current group. "I think last year, we did do it some games but we backed up a little.
"I think that's one of the key things we're doing this year."