FSU Falls in Sweet 16: 3 Game-Changing Plays

This one certainly stings. No one was expecting utter domination like this, especially not from a Michigan team that was missing its best player. Their second half adjustment to get them offense was just too much to overcome for Florida State, and MJ Walker ends his career on a bittersweet note.

Maybe it was fitting that a strange season filled with pandemic pauses and injuries and everything in between ended this way. At times, Florida State looked like one of the best teams in the country, but other time turnovers, clunky shot taking, and opponent free throw shooting doomed this team in, and it was a culmination of everything today. This was the first time I’ve seen an offense just beat us up and down in a long time. Michigan’s second half offense was superb, there’s nothing else to say about the game. FSU gave the ball away too much in the first half and ended with 14 turnovers in the game, just the third time all season Michigan forced 14 or more turnovers. Combine that with Michigan’s 18/26 shooting in the second half, and a foul differential of 22-10, and it was too much as Michigan cruised to a 76-58 victory.

Before we get to the plays, some box score notes.

Points off of turnovers, free throw shooting, and points in the paint. Those are are three major, major differences and would be too much for any team to overcome. That’s an insane margin. Once Scottie Barnes had to sit with 4 fouls, I think everyone knew it was going to be tough for FSU to create offense. Anthony Polite and RaiQuan Gray did their best, but it was too much, Michigan was too good.

Malik Osborne led the scoring for Florida State with 12 points. That tells you about everything you need to know in this game. I love Malik, I just don’t think the team can be very successful offensively when he the majority of your points. MJ Walker was the only other Seminole in double figures with 10 points in his likely final game in a Florida State uniform.

Balsa Koprivica was great in the first half with 7 points, but was held scoreless in the second half. All of Anthony Polite’s 9 points came in the second half. Barnes was aggressive early with 6 out of FSU’s total 14 points, but he only scored two more the rest of the way. Only 8 Florida State players scored the whole game, and one was Harrison Prieto getting a bucket in garbage time. That’s not how FSU wins, everyone needs to get involved.

For Michigan, Brandon Johns had a career game with 14 points, Hunter Dickinson had 14 points, Franz Wagner had 13 points, and Chaundee Brown had 12 points. It was a very balanced attack from them all game, and credit to Juwan Howard.

Onto the plays.

Play 1

Scenario: Anthony Polite Cuts it to 5

FSU went into half down 11, but started a lot better on offense in the second half, culminating in this transition 3 from Anthony Polite. This was the only time all game it felt Florida State had momentum. Polite’s progression all season was a great sight to see, and another offseason of his development will only be that much more fun to watch.

Play 2

Scenario: The Ensuing Sequence

This was the next play following Polite’s 3. Mike Smith had a couple of timely plays in this game, but none were bigger than this. Gets an and-one to take the lead right back to 8, and this is such a tough finish. Michigan did a great job of spreading out Florida State’s defense.

The next play down the floor, MJ Walker gets hurt and Balsa Koprivica misses at the rim. Any momentum FSU had was immediately sucked out of the gym.

Then Michigan scorches the defense on another high/low action and the momentum was full swung in their favor. Was tough to come back from this moment on.

Play 3

Scenario: What Michigan Was Doing Offensively

I guess we should still use this as a teaching point. Michigan was torching FSU on high/low actions. Just playing really smart basketball. We showed it in the clip above, but FSU adjusted again by bringing more weakside help.

Michigan was just screen everywhere they could to get the mismatch they wanted in the low post, and their bigs are so smart and know how to seal their defenders up to allow the over the top passes. Austin Davis seals RayQuan Evans, the pass is delivered perfectly, Gray is there on the catch, but Chaundee Brown was cutting baseline and gets the easy look. Michigan just played such smart basketball in the second half and had FSU in a blender, very rare that you get to say that.

Thank you for everyone who read all the articles and listened to the podcasts this season, it was a joy to cover this team, even if the ending wasn’t. As Florida State moves into its offseason, a few players have some big decision ahead and I’ll get to an offseason plan article within the next few weeks. If MJ Walker decides to not use his extra year of eligibility, I thank him on a great career in Tallahassee. I look forward to a packed Tucker Center and an elite roster in town next season. s

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