TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State spent the start of the season crushing five opponents from the lower ranks of Division I. A large jump in the level of competition has produced entirely different results.
Two days ago after falling to No. 18 Florida, 55-51, at home, the Seminoles lost to No. 2-ranked Ohio State, 58-44, on Tuesday night in a matchup that was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in front of a crowd of 10,457 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
After the FSU offense had severe struggles against Florida (shot 29.7 percent from inside the 3-point line), it reached historic lows against the undefeated Buckeyes (6-0). The 44 points scored was the lowest total of coach Leonard Hamilton's nine-year era and the lowest FSU has scored since 1997 when they had the same number in a 67-44 loss at NC State.
FSU also made just 3-of-17 attempts (17.6 percent) from 3-point range and coughed up a season-high 22 turnovers, 14 of which came in the second half.
Freshman guard Ian Miller was FSU's leading scorer with 11 points. Senior guard Derwin Kitchen was their only other player in double figures with 10 points.
"It's real frustrating. This was a big stretch for us," said FSU forward Chris Singleton, who was 2-of-9 from the floor and nearly finished with as many steals (five) as points (eight). "I feel like our defense has showed up, but our offense hasn't."
Much like the Florida game, where they came back from 13 down to cut the lead to one, FSU put together another second-half comeback. Down by as much as 17 at one point, they cut OSU's lead to 49-42 on a Deividas Dulkys' 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining. But, they would only score one more basket, a Singleton dunk, the rest of the way.
Hamilton said he was most disappointed with the number of turnovers, but he, and many of the players, blamed their inability to score more on missing open shots.
"I thought we had good looks we just weren't able to get those shots to go down for us," he said. "I was looking at (our) shots rim in and out. We missed open looks and they made tough shots."
Ohio State, which scored 93 points in a 18-point win at Florida earlier this year, was actually held to a lower shooting percentage (32.2 percent to 35.4 percent) from the floor. Many of those attempts never even reached the rim or the backboard as FSU racked up 10 blocks, four from Singleton and three apiece from big men Xavier Gibson and Bernard James.
Ohio State's star big man Jared Sullinger was held to 11 points and their leading scorer David Lighty went 4-of-14 from the floor.
"That may be one of the best defenses I've ever gone against in my life," OSU coach Thad Matta said. "We couldn't get an easy shot for 40 minutes."
FSU was cold from the start, missing its first five shots from the field as it fell behind 7-0. The Buckeyes would go on to lead 28-17 at the half.
The Seminoles were out rebounded 42-33 and for the second straight game they shot less than half as many free throws as their opponent. The Buckeyes were 16-of-21 from the charity stripe while the 'Noles were 7-of-10.
One of the lone bright spots offensively was the play of Miller, who scored eight of his points in the second half and sparked the comeback.
"This just drives me for the next game," Miller said. "I want to oppose my will on every team we play. We are playing good defense. Once we start hitting shots things will start rolling."
FSU plays its next game at home against Hartford (1-5) on Sunday night at 7 pm.
This was the first time FSU had lost at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They are now 5-4 under Hamilton in the event.
Ohio State had 15 points off second-chance shots while Florida State had just four.
Thirty-five NBA scouts attended the game.