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Polite a big lift in FSU’s win over Gardner-Webb

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A tired Florida State team had to grind through a surprising challenge from Gardner-Webb. But the Seminoles picked up the win and now can take a breather.

Anthony Polite scored a career-high 15 points and Balsa Koprivica added a season-best 14 points as No. 21 Florida State pulled away late to defeat Gardner-Webb 72-59 on Monday.

Polite scored in double figures for a fourth straight game for Florida State (5-1). The redshirt junior guard had done so just six times in the 2019-20 season.

The Seminoles outrebounded Gardner Webb 53-30. Polite had nine rebounds, while Balsa Koprivica and RaiQuan Gray added eight rebounds apiece.

FSU lost a pair of NBA lottery picks, with Patrick Williams being taken by Chicago and Devin Vassell by San Antonio, while starting point guard and team leader Trent Forrest was also signed by Utah as an undrafted free agent. Coach Leonard Hamilton said the Seminoles are still figuring out chemistry, rotations and responsibilities as veterans have been asked to fill larger roles and newcomers are taking the court in critical moments, too.

“It takes a while to adjust when these roles are being changed,” Hamilton said. “You have four guys stepping into new roles. It’s a transition period. I like to think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Despite a loss to UCF on Saturday, the Seminoles have weathered the storm as well as can be expected going into the holiday break. Despite another sluggish start, Florida State shot 24 of 32 (75 percent) from the free-throw line to put the game away.

A 7-foot-1 sophomore center, Koprivica was able to use his height advantage, shooting 4 of 5 from the floor and making 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Gray scored just four points but made an impact on the defensive end with eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Well-rounded efforts from Polite, Koprivica and Gray ensured the Seminoles go into the break with positive momentum.

“We definitely answered the challenge,” Polite said. “We took it personal. The team that showed up against UCF is not us. We were able to show what we were capable of.”

Lance Terry scored 23 points for Gardner-Webb (1-4), which did not score a point in the final two minutes, 42 seconds. Terry shot 8 of 19 from the floor.

Florida State is 60-14 since the start of 2018-19 season.

Got to fix that

The Seminoles won despite making just 6 of 33 (18.2 percent) of their shots from 3-point range. The Seminoles had made at least eight in every game this season.

Freshman Scottie Barnes suffered a foot/ankle injury early in the second half. After taking up his right foot and ankle, he tried to walk and then rode the stationary bike courtside before returning to the game. Barnes missed a few jumpers once he got back in the game.

Box score

For box score from the game, click here.

Up next

FSU takes a break for the holiday before playing at Clemson on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.

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