In a tight game where every possession was critical, Florida State had a few late steals, free throws and rebounds to sneak out a win over NC State.
And a few season-best performances from Malik Osborne, Cam’Ron Fletcher and Matthew Cleveland were essential to a road victory in the Seminoles’ first game back since Dec. 15.
Osborne scored a season-best 19 points, Fletcher had a season-best 14 points and Matthew Cleveland had 13 points and a season-best nine rebounds in FSU’s 83-81 road win over NC State on Saturday afternoon. After seeing three games postponed, the Seminoles also picked up their first ACC victory as the calendar flips to 2022.
“This was a very satisfying victory under those circumstances,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We had a lot of uncertainty going on with our team. I thought they stayed focused, they didn’t allow themselves to get rattled.”
The Seminoles (7-4, 1-1 ACC) made 6 of 8 free-throw attempts in the final minute, while Cleveland and Fletcher had a steal each in the final 1:04. FSU finished with nine steals, one shy of the team’s average, but they led to 19 points.
NC State’s Dereon Seabron was a near-impossible defensive assignment. Seabron scored 32 points on 12 of 14 shooting from the floor. He also had seven assists and five rebounds for the Wolfpack (7-7, 0-3).
“It wouldn’t have made any difference if we could have practiced defense 24 hours a day, Seabron does that to everybody,” Hamilton said. “He had his day. The name of the game is not about him it’s about us just trying to figure out a way to come away with a victory. That’s what I’m most pleased with.”
Fletcher played without a clear mask that he had worn for much of December since suffering a facial fracture at Purdue on Nov. 30. He played a season-high 23 minutes, shot 6 of 8 from the floor with six rebounds and three steals (although he was credited with six turnovers).
Osborne shot 5 of 10 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in one of his best games of the season. He also had six rebounds.
Mills shot 5 of 10 from the floor with three rebounds. Cleveland also shot 5 of 10 from the floor with a season-best nine rebounds.
Anthony Polite, Mills and Osborne had seven points apiece in the first half as FSU took a 43-41 lead at the half. The Seminoles were red-hot early, making 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) of their shots from the floor and were 4 of 10 (40 percent) from 3-point range.
FSU finished 29 of 57 (50.9 percent) from the floor and 6 of 15 (40 percent) from 3-point range.
Terquavion Smith scored 23 points, drilling 7 of 13 shots from beyond the arc for NC State. The Wolfpack shot 28 of 54 (51.9 percent) from the floor and 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range).
The FSU-NC State box score can be viewed here.
FSU will play at Wake Forest on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Regional Sports Networks.