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Polite sparks FSU with 3s, defense

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Anthony Polite’s success this season is rooted in work that he has done throughout the summer. And the playing time he received in March as Florida State was battling injuries in the NCAA Tournament.

FSU leaned on Polite in the three games in the Big Dance, including nine points, four rebounds with three assists in a 90-62 win over Murray State in the second round.

“It was a fun experience just being able to be out on the court and it just made me want to work harder this summer,” Polite said. “Just working every day on little stuff every time, I could see the improvements on the court.”

Polite has carried that over into the 2019-20 season. He had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in FSU’s win over South Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic on Dec. 21, helping the Seminoles rally with a pair of three-pointers in the second half.

FSU is 10-2 going into its final non-conference tune-up against North Alabama (5-7) on Saturday at 2 p.m. (live stream on ACC Network Extra).

As a redshirt sophomore, Polite has been a more confident and consistent three-point shooter. He has made 14 of 41 (34.1 percent) of his shots from beyond the arc, already making more 3s than he did a year ago (he was 11 of 46, making just 23.9 percent).

His production has improved of late, with Polite making 4 of 6 three-pointers in a Dec. 8 home win over Clemson. And he has been leaned on to provide quality minutes, playing 15 or more in every game this season while also starting three games.

Polite also has 17 steals in 12 games, one short of his entire 30-game total from 2017-18. He has helped to spearhead a Seminoles roster that takes pride in defense, averaging 13.7 steals per game (top 5 in Division I).

“I think we preach defense all the time and we try to play fast as well,” Polite said. “But defense comes first.”

NORTH ALABAMA AT FSU

Time/TV: Saturday at 2 p.m., live stream on ACC Network Extra.

FSU potential starters: G Devin Vassell (11.9 ppg., 4.4 rpg.), G M.J. Walker (10.6 ppg., 2.3 rpg.), G Trent Forrest (11.9 ppg., 3.6 assists), F RaiQuan Gray (6.9 ppg., 3.9 rpg.), C Dominik Olejniczak (3.9 ppg., 2.4 rpg.).

FSU top reserves: G Anthony Polite (6.2 ppg., 3.0 rpg.), F Patrick Williams (9.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), F Malik Osborne (5.4 ppg., 5.1 rpg.).

North Alabama potential starters: G Jamari Blackmon (13.0 ppg., 2.4 rpg.), G Christian Agnew (11.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg.), G C.J. Brim (8.8 ppg., 4.0 rpg.), G Cameron Diggs (2.8 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), F Mervin James (5.3 ppg., 9.1 rpg.).

Last two seasons: FSU is 39-10 since November 2018, including a 29-8 mark in 2018-19 as the Seminoles made a run to the Sweet 16.

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