The growing pains are evident. Playing in game 3 with a reshuffled roster, Florida State showed a lack of synergy in the half-court set against Tulane’s matchup zone.
FSU struggled in just about every way, often forcing shots, turning it over and missing 3-pointers and free-throw attempts. But the Seminoles again leaned on their veterans and made some critical plays late, holding off Tulane 59-54 on Wednesday night.
“It’s obvious that we’re not playing real well right now,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Teams go through those periods where it seems they can’t put it together … We just have to work our way through them.”
Caleb Mills was forced to take shots and had his moments, scoring 13 points but on 5-of-15 shooting. He added four rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Cam’Ron Fletcher spent time on the bench with four fouls in the second half but finished with 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting.
And Malik Osborne battled through pain to score nine points, pull down 10 rebounds and add two blocks while often being FSU’s “big” on the court.
FSU (2-1) struggled in the half-court set, especially with Rayquan Evans at the point. Evans shot 1 of 8 from the floor and had four turnovers with just two assists. Evans did have four blocks, including one with eight seconds left to seal up the win.
Anthony Polite faired a little better, scoring six points and contributing nine rebounds but it was on 2 of 7 shooting. The Seminoles shot just 22 of 55 (40 percent) from the floor, including 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range. They were also just 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) from the free-throw line.
In what is a very odd stat, FSU had just eight fast-break points.
FSU had 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.
One big positive: FSU held Tulane to just 16 of 55 (29.1 percent) from the floor. The Green Wave were just 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) from the floor in the second half.
“I thought we defended very well,” Hamilton said. “We did play pretty good defense in the second half.”
The Seminoles only played Tanor Ngom for eight minutes. Ngom had three points and two rebounds in his first game back since suffering a concussion. FSU opted not to play Naheem McLeod or Quincy Ballard.
In the end, Hamilton said he was pleased with what he saw from a number of first-year players like Mills and Fletcher.
“We have always had a deep rotation but we have never had this many first-year guys that need to be consistent in order for us to be successful,” Hamilton said. “That’s where we are. We’re going to work our way through it.”
FSU won its 22nd straight home game in November, a streak that dates to 2014.
Mills settled in after a rough start and had 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting at the half, helping FSU take a 37-32 lead. Mills also had three steals, three rebounds and two assists in the first 20 minutes. Osborne was slowed by a rough foul when he hit the deck, but he had seven points and four assists in the first half.
The FSU-Tulane box score can be viewed here.
FSU plays Loyola Marymount in the Jacksonville Classic on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network).