Williams impresses, FSU continues impressive 14-0 mark at home

Patrick Williams is feeling more comfortable. And the freshman’s play has the rest of the ACC very uncomfortable.

Williams scored 16 points while Anthony Polite had 10 points and six rebounds as No. 8 Florida State pulled away in the second half to take an 82-67 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

A 6-foot-8 forward, Williams came off the bench to score in double figures for the 10th time this season for the Seminoles (22-4, 12-3 ACC), who are 14-0 at home this season. 

“Confidence comes with experience,” Williams said. “Towards the beginning, little experience in college at all and then little experience in the ACC. I feel like really the game has been slowing down a lot for me. I’ve just been able to think the game more.”

Williams’ athleticism and instincts are showing. He has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, but his last two games have been among his best. On Saturday, he dropped 17 points in a win over Syracuse – the most he had scored in an ACC game – on 7 of 14 shooting. On Tuesday, it was another efficient night as he shot 7 of 12 from the floor and pulled down five rebounds.

“He’s really starting to blossom,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. “There’s a reason why he’s looked at as one of the top guys, potentially, for the NBA draft, if that’s something he chooses to do.”

Williams has plenty of time to make that decision. For now, he’s a sparkplug off the bench.

Led by Williams, Polite and Dominik Olejniczak (eight points), it’s an FSU bench that outscored Pittsburgh 53-15.

“I was very pleased with our bench,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Our rotation guys came in and gave us a lot of effort and execution.”

Au’Diese Toney scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds and Xavier Johnson added 12 points and seven assists for Pittsburgh (15-12, 6-10), which has lost six of its last eight games.

Balsa Koprivica had seven points and seven rebounds, helping Florida State gain a 40-27 rebounding edge. 

Devin Vassell returned from a one-game absence for Florida State and scored three points while pulling down four rebounds.

The victory helped the Seminoles avenge a 63-61 loss at Pittsburgh in the season opener on Nov. 6.


Malik Beasley was honored during a break in Tuesday’s game. (photo by Mike Olivella)

Trent Forrest had two first-half steals, giving him 219 for his career and moving him into the top 25 in ACC history. Forrest is third on Florida State’s all-time steals list, behind just Charlie Ward (238) and Delvon Arrington (225).

Vassell and M.J. Walker, two of the Seminoles’ top guards, didn’t score in the first half. But the Seminoles had 29 bench points in the first half, more than making up for the scoring load. Walker finished with seven points.

Pittsburgh was able to keep the game close in the first half but Trey McGowens was held to only three points – he averages 12.5 per game – and the Panthers made only 4 of 22 3-pointers (18.2 percent).

Malik Beasley returned to Tallahassee during the NBA’s all-star break. Beasley, who played at FSU in 2015-16, was traded from Denver to Minnesota earlier this month.


Florida State is at NC State on Saturday at 4 p.m.