Florida State is so deep at guard and forward that it hasn’t featured its 7-footers much this season. That changed on Tuesday.
Balsa Koprivica scored a season-high 15 points and Dominik Olejniczak added a season-high 11 points as No. 19 Florida State defeated North Florida 98-81.
The centers were able to capitalize on their height and physical advantage, making shots in the lane and leading the Seminoles to a 39-27 rebounding edge.
“Neither one of those guys have been feature players on their teams in the past,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’re putting them in positions where we need them to be consistent with their execution. And that’s not as easy as you would think. I thought they made a big difference, the fact that we were able to attack the interior opened up things for us.”
Koprivica, a freshman, was 6 of 8 from the floor and had more points than he did in the past four games combined. Olejniczak, a graduate transfer from Ole Miss, was 5 of 7 from the floor and hit double figures for just the second time this season.
The development of Koprivica is encouraging. Hamilton has typically brought in talented but raw 7-footers from outside the U.S., and the Serbian is coming along faster than expected.
“It’s amazing,” Olejniczak said. “Where he was when he got here – big strides. His ceiling is unbelievably high. I’m just looking forward to seeing where the season takes him.”
M.J. Walker had 11 points, one of seven Seminoles who scored in double figures. Florida State (9-2) has won 12 straight home games in a streak that dates back to the 2018-19 season.
RaiQuan Gray had 11 points and five assists for Florida State, which shot 41 of 72 (56.9 %) from the floor.
North Florida came into the game with 149 made 3-pointers, which leads Division I. The Ospreys made 9 of 17 (52.9 %) of their shots from beyond the arc in the first half but were held to just 4 of 17 (23.5 %) in the second half.
Ivan Gandia-Rosa scored 23 points, knocking down four 3-pointers, for North Florida (7-6). Garrett Sams added 20 points, also making four 3-pointers.
TUCK TALKING POINT
The Seminoles showcased their 7-footers more than they have all season, an illustration of just how deep and dangerous the team can be in ACC play. Eleven players made a basket on Tuesday.
Florida State vs. South Florida on Saturday at noon at Sunrise, Fla.