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FSU Routs Virginia: 3 Game-Changing Plays

This game was never really close. FSU led by 20 going into the half, Virginia comes out in the second half starting strong and cuts the lead to 7, before FSU explodes again for a 17-2 run to eventually get it right back to a 24-point lead. Florida State was able to coast the rest of the game on their way to an 81-60 win. Florida State really, really impressed tonight; Virginia was the 7th-ranked team heading into the game, and now the ‘Noles sit just one game back of the conference lead. They’ll need some help from the rest of Virginia’s schedule and FSU has to win out.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand what Virginia’s plan was heading into this. The first half, there was almost no off-ball movement, and when their guys got into the paint, they immediately turned away from the basket looking for a pass. They’re a great 3-point shooting team, but no team is that great that you just start to turn down shots near the rim. They played scared for the first 20 minutes, and FSU was dynamite offensively. The focal point was RaiQuan Gray; Virginia simply had no answer for him. Put him in the post and he could pass out of double teams or bully in one-on-one situations. In the second half, they weren’t moving the ball as much to start, but once they did, it was wraps.

The higher ceiling won out against the higher floor. If this version of Florida State shows up in March, very few teams are capable of beating them. 81 points is the most FSU has scored against Virginia since 2006, an insane amount of points against a Tony Bennett defense.

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

MJ Walker entered this game 24 points away from 1,000 career points, and now sits just 7 away. He was electric from 3, scoring 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds and a steal. He wasn’t the greatest defensively, but he was getting open looks from 3 and making Virginia pay time after time.

Florida State dominated every facet of this game. Here’s a screenshot of the total box score comparison.

5 turnovers is the second fewest turnovers FSU has had in a game in the Hamilton era (at least as far back as I can search game logs), second only to a 4 turnover outing in the ACC Tournament in 2016 against Virginia Tech, a loss. Combining that with 54% shooting from 3? Insane. No team is beating that. The points off of turnovers ended up being the major difference.

RaiQuan Gray continued his claim as the best player on the team, scoring 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Virginia had zero idea what to do with him. They eventually had to stop double-teaming him and he kept making them pay. Fantastic game.

No one else scored in double figures for Florida State. I was stunned when I saw that. Balsa Koprivica still made himself some money tonight though. In just 14 minutes, he finished with 9 points, 3 rebounds, a block, and a 3 POINTER. He read the room and splashed it and at that point Virginia was warming up the bus.

Anthony Polite being back is so important for this team. He played the best defense on Kihei Clark out of anyone, and added 8 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals to show for it.

Scottie Barnes was aggressive most of the night, and while his statline of 7 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals doesn’t show it as much, his offensive gravity was on display all night. 0 turnovers as well in 24 minutes, and led the team with a +/- of +20.

For Virginia, Trey Murphy led the way with 13 points, Thomas Woldetensae and Kihei Clark each finished with 12 points, and Sam Hauser finished with 11. All of Clark’s points came in the first 10 minutes of the second half as he tried to get his team back into the game. FSU changed their defensive pressure to get the ball out of his hands and it worked. Jay Huff, a double digit scorer usually, only took 6 total shots, and finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds. FSU’s pressure on him was fantastic.

Anyways, onto the plays.

Play 1

Scenario: Virginia Forced to Move Away From Their Principles

This play is so, so elite. Virginia’s principles tell them to double the post when the ball is caught their, but RaiQuan Gray isn’t your average player in the post. Balsa Koprivica makes a great flash to the ball, and Gray delivers the pass on the money for an easy layup.

Virginia was forced to go away from their defensive principles the rest of the game because of this play right here, and it left them in a funk. They were lost on a lot of defensive possessions.

Play 2

Scenario: Daar Ends Momentum

Virginia opened the second half on a 14-3 run and were in the midst of a 12-0 run, which got the lead down to 7. Enter Sardaar Calhoun, a Virginia native.

Elite shot-creation by Scottie Barnes and elite shot-making from Calhoun. This play sparked a 17-2 run in Florida State’s favor over the next 5 minutes, and elite stretch against Virginia.

Play 3

Scenario: ISO BK

I mean…. Balsa Koprivica made himself millions with these two plays right here.

First the 3-pointer. I mean, this is comedy. Square up, BANG. Then to follow it up with this?

Just absolutely cooked Sam Hauser, the potential ACC Player of the Year, and he’s a 7 FOOT 1 CENTER. This isn’t natural.

Florida State is supposed to be back in action Saturday against Virginia Tech, but VT is on COVID pause and I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is re-scheduled for someone else. Either way, we’ll have full coverage here.


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  1. Pingback: The Daily Nole - Feb. 16, 2021: FSU Hoops Smashes No. 7 Virginia, 81-60 - The Daily Nole

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