FSU can’t overcome flawed first half in Sweet 16 loss

A first half filled with turnovers and missed 3-pointers, plus foul trouble, put Florida State in too big a hole to climb from.

Malik Osborne scored 12 points and M.J. Walker added 10 points but the fourth-seeded Seminoles fell 76-58 to No. 1 seed Michigan, which was efficient from the floor in the second half in advancing to the Elite Eight.

“I think our Achilles was we were 0 for 7 from the 3 and that we turned the ball over I think 10 points in the first half,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Brandon Johns Jr. and Hunter Dickinson each scored 14 points, while Franz Wagner added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan (23-5).

FSU (18-7) hadn’t played well away from Tallahassee this season but still made a run to the Sweet 16 using its defense. On Sunday, the Wolverines shot just 34 percent in the first half but finished at 49.2 percent (29 of 59) for the game. And the Seminoles’ 58 points was a season low.

Hamilton said after the loss he felt the Seminoles “might have overachieved at times.”

“They can’t let that one game define their season,” Hamilton said. “We were one game short from winning the (ACC) regular season, we were one game short from winning the conference tournament. We made it to the Sweet 16. And we got beat by a team that played better than us. In reality you feel bad now because you didn’t perform against a really good basketball team but we have a lot to be proud of.

“We’ve made tremendous progress with our program, and what we have to do is evaluate where we are, evaluate our shortcomings, and let’s go back now as a group and let’s improve on these, on our shortcomings. Can we come back and be a little bit better than the Sweet 16 next year?”

The Seminoles also struggled with foul trouble early as RayQuan Gray and Anthony Polite missed major chunks of the first half after picking up two fouls. Gray finished with eight points and three rebounds, while Polite had nine points and four rebounds. 

FSU trailed 32-21 at the half before cutting the deficit to five, 41-36, with 14:52 left. But the Wolverines scored the next seven points and the Seminoles weren’t able to sustain the run, trailing by double digits the rest of the way.

The Seminoles were 0 for 7 from 3-point range in the first half before settling in and finishing 5 of 20 from beyond the arc. Osborne made 4 of 7 shots from long range.

FSU shot 24 of 60 (40 percent) against a stifling Michigan defense.

Michigan will play the Alabama-UCLA winner for a spot in the Final Four on Tuesday night.

“If they play the way they played tonight, they’re going to be hard to beat,” Hamilton said.

A number of seniors have played their final game, including Walker and Rayquan Evans (Nathanael Jack and Tanor Ngom have said they intend to return). Scottie Barnes is a near certainty to turn pro as a projected first-round pick. Other players who will have decisions to make about their futures include Gray and Balsa Koprivica.


The FSU-Michigan box score can be viewed here.