FSU crushes Central Missouri in first exhibition game

Florida State started off the 2017-18 season with a bang. The Seminoles throttled the Central Missouri Mules 116-68 inside the Donald L. Tucker Center. Ball movement and chemistry was on full display despite losing five players from last seasons NCAA Tournament squad.

– Six `Noles in double figures

FSU went on a scoring tear last night. The team put up 56 points in the first-half before increasing their output to 60 points in the final 20 minutes of the game. Six `Noles finished the contest in double-figures.

Junior guard PJ Savoy led the team with 19 points. Savoy knocked down four shots from deep and looked much improved on both ends of the court. Freshman MJ Walker had 17 points but he seemed to be forcing some of his offense, Walker needs to settle in.

Starting center Christ Koumadje has noticeably put on some muscle and it showed against Central Missouri. He was physical inside on both ends and finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, and a block. Koumadje threw down a couple huge dunks and looks capable of taking the next step.

CJ Walker and Terance Mann both finished with 12 points. Walker looked comfortable running the offense but his defense was even more impressive. He played with high levels of intensity and pressure all night, making things tough on the Mules. Mann looked like his usual do-it-all self. He hauled down six rebounds, three assists, and two steals on top of going 2-2 from behind the arc.

Redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele had 11 points and 9 rebounds. He looks like a capable athlete who could become a contributor for Florida State this season.

– PJ Savoy takes a leap forward

Savoy was mostly used as a sparkplug scorer off the bench last season due to his ability to stretch the floor from deep. The junior didn’t have the intensity and focus on defense last season that Leonard Hamilton requires from his players, so he mostly got spot time and it was hard for Savoy to carve out his place in the rotation.

Well not anymore. He had 19 points and four triples against the Mules. Savoy was locked in defensively and didn’t allow himself to get beat on that end of the court once all night. He now looks like a viable option for the Seminoles as Savoy is without a doubt the most lockdown shooter on this squad. Savoy needs to continue to show this kind of defensive effort as the season progresses.

– Mfiondu Kabengele flashes his potential

Kabengele was a member of the 2016 signing class but he redshirted during his first season in Tallahassee. He worked on his body over his redshirt season and lost about 20 pounds. Kabengele has also become better with his handles and more consistent on his jumper.

The redshirt freshman finished his first collegiate game with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block. He knocked down a triple while also exerting himself at the basket. Kabengele came down with a couple offensive rebounds and did a great job of finishing those opportunities for the `Noles.

– The freshmen impress

Florida State signed five players during the 2017 recruiting cycle, 5* guard MJ Walker, 4* center Ikechukwu Obiagu, 4* forward RaiQuan Gray, 3* guard Anthony Polite, and 3* forward Wyatt Wilkes. Walker, Obiagu, Gray, and Polite all made their debuts last night.

The aforementioned Walker finished with 17 points on the night. He was at his best when he was driving to the rim. Walker struggled with his jumper and was forcing some looks, he should settle into the offense over time. He needs to work on his handles and defensive focus. Obiagu showed off some of what he could bring to this squad. The freshmen big man had 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He patrolled the paint throughout the game and was excellent at contesting opposing offensive players.

Gray and Polite both made some promising plays as well. Gray is a bigger body who might need to slim down a bit to be at his best. He had 5 points and 4 rebounds. Gray’s most impressive play was toward the end of the game. He dove on the floor for a loose ball and then swung it ahead to Polite, who then found Walker for and-1 basket. Polite had 6 points, 3 rebounds, and a team-high 4 assists. He was solid in all facets of the game. The freshman made excellent passes and was in control offensively. All of these guys look like they have a spot in the Seminoles rotation.

– FSU looks to be back at full strength for exhibition #2

Sophomore guard Trent Forrest, senior guard Braian Angola, and freshman forward Wyatt Wilkes all missed the first exhibition game. Forrest wasn’t dressed but was under the basket passing the ball to teammates during warmups. He didn’t seem to be hampered by anything serious.

Angola and Wilkes were both held out due to a minor violation of team rules. I’d expect them back for the next exhibition against Thomas University on November 7, or at least by the start of the regular season on November 14.

Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Staff Writer for the FSView and contributor for Celtics Hub.

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