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Florida State Defeats Florida: 3 Game-Changing Plays

Oh Florida, when will you learn?

For the sixth straight season, the Seminoles have taken down the Gators, this time with a 63-51 win against “the sixth-ranked team in the country.”

The first half was as ugly as ugly gets. The officiating was horrific, especially in the first half, and neither team could find a rhythm offensively, and FSU led at the break by a score 25-21, a score so low that Virginia would be proud.

The second half was all ‘Noles. They opened the first 6 minutes on a 14-6 run, and that run would be the difference in the game. Some box score notes first before we get into the plays.

Trent Forrest knew he had to get his teammates more involved in this game, and he put out a wild stat line: 8 points, 8 rebounds (3 offensive rebounds), 7 assists, and a steal. He’ll have to score more for FSU to continue winning, but for now, I’ll take all of this. And he made a 3-pointer! He still needs to take them every single time he’s open, but I’ll take these baby steps.

The free-throw shooting remains a positive. They were 13-15 against Pitt, and were 18-23 against Florida. This is a great sign for the direction of this team, and keeping up this kind of success from the stripe is vital to the team’s yearlong success. Keeping the attempts above 20 is the most important aspect.

Devin Vassell wasn’t as world-beating against UF as he was Pitt, as he started off missing a bunch of shots in a row. Once he got rolling though, he was unstoppable. His confidence is through the roof and will only continue to rise as the wins come in. He finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.

Patrick Williams is BOUNCY. He skied for a lob on a beautiful pass from Wyatt Wilkes, and finished with 3 blocks. In just 16 minutes, I’m very encouraged by his stat line: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a steal. His eye was poked at some point in the game (no foul called), which explains his limited minutes, and should see a lot more time in these next few games.

Dominik Olejniczak made his debut against the Gators, and while his box score shows only 2 rebounds and 2 fouls, his impact was massive in his seven minutes. He was the steady force FSU missed on the inside against Pitt, and as he gets healthier (you could tell he’s still not 100%), he’s going to become a solid player for the ‘Noles.

Now to the plays…

Play 1

Situation: 18:27 in the Second Half, Andrew Nembhard drives right

There’s absolutely nothing worth talking about in the first half, so let’s just skip to the second half.

Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard starts driving to his right where Devin Vassell happens to be standing. Had Nembhard gone left, it’s likely still a turnover, so I don’t know what Nembhard is doing. Vassell pokes the ball loose right to Trent Forrest, and we’re off in transition.

Forrest takes a couple of dribbles before delivering a no-look bounce-pass right behind Kerry Blackshear to Vassell who slams it home.

This play sparked the 14-6 run that broke the game open. The difference between this run and a 4-point lead at halftime was the difference in the whole game, with the total score being a difference of 12 points. It also set the tone for that second half. Guys were swarming to the ball, disrupting passing lanes, challenging every shot, and were allowing nothing easy. What was a tough brawl the first half turned into a walk in the park the second half, and it started with this play.

Play 2

Situation: 11:45 in the Second Half, Florida State is bringing the ball up the floor against a press

Florida, for some stupid reason, decided to go into a spread 1-3-1 defense, guarding it all the way up to halfcourt. This makes absolutely no sense, considering FSU runs a four out, one-in system anyways. Just look at this screencap, the decision makes ZERO sense for Florida. There are four people putting their attention on two people

Wyatt Wilkes could have passed it to the right corner for an open 3, but he takes the sure thing and throws a perfect lob to Patrick Williams, who made the perfect read to cut to the basket and gets the easiest dunk of his life. In terms of game impact, all it showed was FSU was two steps ahead of Florida and gave the ‘Noles even more momentum. They saw the 1-3-1, didn’t panic, and made the perfect read. Some teams struggle to make adjustments on the fly like this, but this shows some real moxie.

Florida State has had a lot of success against the 1-3-1 in the past. Xavier switching to a 1-3-1 in the Round of 32 in 2018 is what allowed the Seminoles to fight their way back into the game. Why any coach would watch film on Florida State and go “I think a 1-3-1 against them would work for us” is beyond me, but thanks, Mike White.

Play 3

Situation: 7:15 remaining, Florida State in transition

MJ Walker grabs the rebound and starts pushing it in transition. Walker gets to the top of the arc and looks to his right to see Trent Forrest trailing the play. Pass happens, Forrest sets his feet, stops and pops with no hesitation.

The dagger. And it was a 3-pointer from Trent Forrest. He’s still way too timid from 3, as him shooting them in the flow of the offense is what’s supposed to happen. There were a few times he was this open and didn’t shoot.

Calling it a dagger with 7 minutes left might be a stretch, but this is what felt like the final momentum killer for Florida. Forrest is far from a good long-distance shooter, but when he makes his attempts you can see the bench light up. The staff and players all encourage him to shoot when he’s open. Hopefully, he continues taking his open 3s and starts making them consistently.

Florida State gets a little time off, as their next game isn’t until Friday, November 15 against Western Carolina. These next few home games are all “buy games”, where FSU pays teams to come to Tallahassee to get beat, while FSU can get their younger guys some experience, and let other players build confidence back up if they’ve had some bad games.

FSU has four buy games in a row between November 15-25: Western Carolina, Chattanooga, St Francis (PA), and Chicago State. All should be easy wins, and the real fun will start after that.


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