Florida State’s six-game win streak came to a halt against Georgia Tech, which has featured a tough zone defense and been tough to beat home.
Anthony Polite had all 11 of his points in the second half but the Seminoles could not make a bucket from the floor in the last 5 minutes, 5 seconds in a 75-61 loss to the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday. In a January that saw FSU open 7-1, it’s now the worst loss of the season — GT is ranked 175th in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
Naheem McLeod had a career-high 10 points and added seven rebounds but the Seminoles (13-6, 6-3 ACC) again struggled to make shots consistently — especially from 3-point range early on against GT’s zone — and committed 17 turnovers.
“It’s kind of hard to turn the ball over against a zone defense but we figured out a way to do that tonight,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “… You got to give them credit. They outplayed us tonight. This is a loss that won’t look very good on their resume. So we got to figure out a way to make up for this with hopefully getting another run of games.”
Hamilton said the Seminoles “couldn’t have been more prepared” for the zone but admitted they have struggled against zone defenses this season. “Tonight our execution against the zone was not very good,” Hamilton said.
John Butler had eight points and two rebounds, while Jalen Warley had six points, four rebounds and three assists.
But a few of FSU’s biggest pieces struggled. Caleb Mills had five points on 2 of 7 shooting, while Matthew Cleveland had five points on 2 of 10 shooting in his return to Atlanta. Hamilton said after the game that Mills has a throat infection or strep throat.
Malik Osborne aggravated his ankle injury and had three points on 1 of 5 shooting. The veteran forward had two rebounds and two assists but his minutes were limited to just 19.
FSU trailed by 14 points in the second half. Back-to-back buckets by Polite — a 3-pointer and a coast-to-coast drive — and Butler’s 3 cut the GT lead to 57-53 with 8:02 to go. But the Yellow Jackets were tough down the stretch despite using just seven players.
Jordan Usher had 19 points and eight rebounds while Michael DeVoe had 15 points for GT (9-10, 2-6). Khalid Moore, a 6-7 forward, fouled out with nine points.
The FSU-GT box score can be viewed here.
FSU plays host to Virginia Tech on Saturday at 3 p.m. (ABC).