Noles respond against Illinois, improve to 5-1

The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 72-61 in an early Friday afternoon matchup. This gave the Noles a third place finish in the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. West Virginia and Temple will play for the first and second place spots.

The Seminoles responded with a victory after their devastating collapse, and eventual first loss of the season, yesterday against the Temple Owls. FSU improves their record to 5-1.

In the win, Dwayne Bacon scored a team-high 17 points, hitting three 3 pointers. Jonathan Isaac recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and a block. He had another great showing, and was extremely efficient, shooting 6-7 in the game (3-4 3PT). Isaac averaged an impressive 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and 1.5 blocks in his two games in Brooklyn.

C.J. Walker also had a breakout game, he scored in double figures for the first time in his career, and finished with 13 points, four rebounds and a steal. At one point, Walker was the driving force on offense, recording eight straight points behind a deep three pointer and another three that he hit in rhythm during a transition opportunity. Another freshman, Trent Forrest, had a big showing. Forrest put together a balanced statline, scoring seven points, while also grabbing five rebounds and four huge steals.

Xavier-Rathan Mayes came alive in the second half, recording all 10 of his points after the intermission. He was given two assists by the scorekeepers, but I think he got a few more than that. Nine different Noles scored and four Noles finished the game in double figures.

Overall, Florida State shot 48.1% in the game (26-54) while holding Illinois to only 32.8% shooting (19-58). The Seminoles also shot a season high 60% (9-15) from the three point line. Bacon and Isaac finished with three 3 pointers, while Walker had two. Braian Angola-Rodas had the other one. Illinois did hold FSU to a season low 72 points, their previous low was 86 yesterday in the loss to Temple.

The Noles did give up 16 offensive rebounds, the second most they’ve allowed this season, Temple had 17 offensive rebounds against FSU. The Seminoles are going to need to refocus on boxing out and crashing the boards, those kind of extra opportunities are why FSU lost to Temple and struggled for awhile against Illinois. Really, defensive rotations and rebounds are killing this team, but then they have stretches where they’re great at it.

This team is still young. 8 of their scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores. There is still a ton of time to work on these issues, plus, guys are getting more experience in each and every game. The big minutes these young players are getting during the non-conference schedule will greatly benefit them when we get to ACC play in late December.

Stat of the night: 60%. The Noles shot their highest percentage from three all season, while holding the Fighting Illini to a mere 22.7% (5-22) from the three point line. All five of Illinois’s three pointers came in the first half, with four in the first 8 and a half minutes of the game.

MVP: Dwayne Bacon once again came through for FSU. With the Noles trailing in the second half, he scored 10 straight, including two deep threes, to help spark the team’s offense. Bacon showed that when the team needs him to come through, he will make big, clutch shots.

Who’s next?: The Seminoles will have a quick turnaround, as they face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-0) on Monday, November 28th, at 7 p.m. This game will be apart of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The game will be held at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Come out to the game and support your Noles as they try to advance to 6-1.  

Dustin Lewis

Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in English Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Writer for FSView Sports and Hashtag Basketball.

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