Analysis: Reflections on FSU’s win over Indiana

Florida State won its second game of the season 69-67 over Indiana in overtime on Wednesday night. The Seminoles avenged a loss to the Hoosiers from a year ago and also showed more glimpse of the team it might become as the season evolves. While it was far from a pretty performance, FSU showed resiliency and got a gutsy win over a good IU team. Here are some observations.

Scottie Barnes is a gamer

For almost the entire game, Florida State’s freshman star looked overwhelmed by the step up in competition. After all, this is just his second college game and, no matter how good you are, it takes a few starts to truly adjust to the level of play the next level brings. The Hoosiers are also a very physical team out of arguably the best conference in basketball this season in the Big Ten. 

Barnes only scored four points in regulation and routinely was hesitant on what he wanted to do when the ball was in his hands, including making some sloppy passes late with the clock winding down. But then overtime came and superstars come to life when their team needs them most. Barnes hit a massive 3-point shot to tie the game at 65 with three minutes to go, right after Trayce Jackson-Davis swung the momentum early in overtime with an “and-one.” 

Then, of course, there is the game-winner. Barnes, at 6-foot-9, going downhill with that kind of grace, agility and finishing ability? It’s why Barnes will be taken in the top 10 of the NBA Draft next summer. He also had five assists and four rebounds and four steals. He’s special, folks. Enjoy him for the year he’s in Tallahassee. 

Barnes on his game winner: “I guess it feels good, I got no feelings about it to be honest.”

Defense wins championships

The offense was a mess for both teams throughout the evening. Neither team shot better than 37 percent on the night and in a physical game that was officiated inconsistently, both sides were playing pick-up basketball at times, it seemed. That’s why Leonard Hamilton wins with defense. It’s why he’s emphasized that to be the pillar of his program and why no player gets in the game if they can’t defend. The Noles were stellar on that side of the ball and caused 14 turnovers, while blocking four shots as well as altering many more. The offense will gel as the Seminoles get more games together and sharpen their execution, it’s great to see the defense playing at an elite level this early in the year.

Indiana head coach Archie Miller on FSU’s defense: “You know Florida State is going to be different from other teams (defensively). They don’t give you anything that you are accustomed to doing (running on offense).”

Tucker Center magic

There’s something about the Donald L. Tucker Center that has become somewhat of a tale around college basketball the past few years. Teams come into Tallahassee knowing it’s a daunting task to get a win in the arena. Even more, the Seminoles seem to play with a different edge and confidence at The Tuck. Whether it was Malik Osborne and M.J. Walker’s 3-pointers in the final minutes of regulation that thwarted any chance of an Indiana run to close the game. Or if it was the Barnes 3-pointer to tie and eventual game-winner in OT, FSU finds ways to hit big-time shots and get big-time stops at home. Most teams in the nation play better at home, but the Seminoles have a different kind of mojo in their crib. And for about only 3,000 fans, it was a lively atmosphere in “Tally” on Wednesday evening. 

Barnes: “We take a lot of pride in it, we’re not trying to let people come in to the Tuck and win. It’s been good to us for a lot of years now.”

This and that

Anthony Polite, RaiQuan Gray and Malik Osborne have played a lot of college basketball in their careers. All three have redshirted before and are older, wiser and more experienced players that have to lead on this team. They combined for 26 points and 26 rebounds with Gray and Polite nearly having double-doubles. They are crucial to the success of this season and all three were key in FSU’s win over IU.

MJ Walker had another ho-hum 19 points. He’s really developed and matured over the years at FSU. And has anyone hit more critical shots than Walker since Michael Snaer was rocking the Garnet and Gold?

Free-throw shooting was tough to watch: 11 for 21 (52 percent) is a good way to lose any close game. Fortunately this is a much better charity-stripe-shooting team than they showed and it didn’t cost them. Hitting 8 of 20 (40 percent) from three-point land, as well as 19 offensive rebounds, also helped mitigate the issue.

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