Florida State was the last Atlantic Coast Conference team to open the season. But the defending league champs showed they have plenty of veterans leading the charge in what was a resounding victory.
M.J. Walker scored 17 points and Balsa Koprivica added 13 points as No. 22 Florida State opened its season with an 86-58 rout of North Florida on Wednesday.
The Seminoles have a new look without NBA lottery picks Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell as well as a leader in point guard Trent Forrest. But FSU coach Leonard Hamilton showed off the depth of the roster, using 12 players and giving four newcomers significant minutes.
“I don’t think we can win with six or seven players,” Hamilton said. “We have to get the full complement of our guys some minutes so we can evaluate them, so they can get a feel for what it is like playing at that level. There’s no doubt that we’re still developing, trying to become the team that we think we can become.”
One of those pieces with promise is Scottie Barnes, the ACC’s preseason freshman of the year, who scored eight points while leading the team in rebounds (six) and assists (six). Barnes had a quiet night early, missing his first five shots before finishing 5 of 11 from the floor. But he had a highlight-worthy moment when he took Wyatt Wilkes’ length-of-the-court toss before passing the ball around his back and finishing with a dunk in the second half.
Another newcomer, junior college transfer guard Sardaar Calhoun, had eight points on 3 of 6 shooting — including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Transfer center Tanor Ngom had three points and three rebounds, while freshman center Quincy Ballard added two points. Those contributions may seem small, but it is part of the big picture to the Seminoles’ long-term plans.
“I’m glad that all of them got a chance to play today,” said Walker, a guard who has taken on more of a leadership role as a senior. “Just having a game like this, to be able to have them come in and get those minutes and build that confidence is key for us moving forward. Because the way we play, we play everybody.”
Dorian James had 13 points and Jacob Crews added 12 points for UNF (0-4), which found some success in drilling 11 of 26 (42.3 percent) of its three-pointers. UNF posted double figures in three-pointers made for the third time in four games. Carter Hendrickson, who averaged 17.3 points in UNF’s first three games, did not play with a foot injury.
RaiQuan Gray had four of FSU’s 12 steals. The Seminoles forced UNF into 24 turnovers, which in turn led to 29 points. Florida State averaged 7.9 turnovers last season.
FSU showed off its depth, using 12 players — with all of them scoring a point. The Seminoles’ bench contributed 33 points.
Click here for the FSU-UNF box score on Seminoles.com
Florida State hosts Indiana on Wednesday, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN2).