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FSU hits 3s, takes Round 2 from Syracuse

On the road and without their best forward, Florida State turned to its depth and turned in a memorable 3-point shooting game.

Caleb Mills scored 19 points — drilling 5 of 6 3-pointers — while RayQuan Evans had 15 points and Wyatt Wilkes added 11 points in the Seminoles’ 76-71 win over Syracuse on Saturday. FSU was without Malik Osborne, who cheered on from the bench but has been battling a foot/ankle injury.

The Seminoles (10-5, 4-2 ACC) made 12 of 20 shots from beyond the arc, a season-best 60 percent shooting day and against Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone defense. FSU won its third straight ACC game and needed every bucket, showing lessons learned from a 4-for-30 performance from 3-point range in a December loss to Syracuse at home.

“We had the same shots in Tallahassee that didn’t fall,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Our guys executed better. We’ve had more time to practice and prepare for the zone. I thought mentally they were a lot more relaxed.”

FSU was able to make 3s across the board: Mills made 5 of 6, Wilkes made 3 of 6, Evans made 2 of 4, Cam’Ron Fletcher was 1 of 1 and Anthony Polite was 1 of 1.

Buddy Boeheim had 18 points for Syracuse (8-9, 2-4).

Without Osborne, FSU used a mix of all of its big men. Naheem McLeod had four points in 12 minutes, Quincy Ballard had two points and two rebounds in a season-high 13 minutes and walk-on forward Harrison Prieto had four points and three steals in a season-high 15 minutes.

“Without having Malik, one of our leaders, it was different guys accepting different roles,” Hamilton said. “We didn’t know what to expect from guys that hadn’t played very much at all. The center position was played by committee. They all made some plays through the course of the game that made the difference, gave us a chance to win.”

Hamilton said the coaches didn’t know that Osborne would be unable to go until Friday. When asked about his availability for the next game, Hamilton said: “I doubt that he is going to be available Tuesday. It could be but I doubt it.”

Matthew Cleveland had nine points, contributing to FSU’s 29-4 advantage in bench points. Anthony Polite had seven points and seven rebounds. Evans and Mills added five assists and two steals apiece.

FSU shot 28 of 51 (54.9 percent) from the floor but just 8 of 13 (61.5 percent) from the free-throw line.

Box score

The FSU-Syracuse box score can be viewed here.

Up next

FSU will play host to No. 8 Duke (13-2) on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The Seminoles will also play host to North Florida on Thursday at noon.