FSU basketball falls to 0-4 after hot start evaporates in loss to Florida

FSU basketball falls to 0-4 after hot start evaporates in loss to Florida

For one half, it looked like things might be better.

The Florida State men’s basketball team, trying to avoid its first 0-4 start in 63 years, got off to an incredible start against rival Florida.

The Seminoles were hot offensively, efficient defensively and built a 17-point halftime lead over the rival Gators.

But the rebound in the middle came hard and extremely fast for the Seminoles. Less than seven minutes into the second half, that sizable halftime lead was gone.

By the time the buzzer sounded, the final score of 76-67 was hardly indicative of how dominant the first half was by the Seminoles in front of an active crowd at the Tucker Civic Center.

With the loss, FSU is 0-4 for the first time since the 1959-60 season. The Gators (3-1) have won two straight against the Seminoles after FSU won the previous seven before that.

Caleb Mills led the way offensively for the Seminoles with 21 points. He accounted for 12 of FSU’s 24 points in the second half.

UF senior center Colin Castleton sat behind for a half, with just six points and five rebounds in the half. He found his swing in the second half, however, finishing with 25 points and nine rebounds.

Caleb Mills led FSU with 21 points.

Caleb Mills led FSU with 21 points. (Mike Olivela)

Intermediate renewal

Almost everything went right for the Seminoles in the first half.

They shot 48.4% from the floor and 50% from three. Matthew Cleveland looked like the power forward who was last season’s ACC Sixth Player of the Year with 10 points in the first half. Darin Green Jr. he looked like the FSU sharpshooter he thought he was entering the transfer gate with 12 points in the first 20 minutes.

Defensively, they were as sharp as they have been all season and used their length to affect the Gators offense. It certainly helped that UF missed a number of easy shots, went more than nine minutes without a layup and shot just 27.6 percent in the first half. But some of that credit goes to the Seminoles’ defense.

When things changed at halftime, they did so in a big way. The Seminoles’ efficient offense became incredibly turnover-prone, and the Gators’ anemic offense quickly caught fire.

UF opened the second half on a 23-3 run, turning a 17-point deficit into a three-point deficit in seven minutes, 20 seconds.

Twelve minutes into the second half, the Seminoles had as many second-half turnovers (9) as points.

They continued to battle, never letting UF run with it after the huge lead disappeared so quickly. However, that is no consolation to anyone who connects with or cheers for the FSU basketball program.

FSU is improving its depth but not its results

FSU was left with a decidedly non-FSU available roster for the final few games, with just seven players available.

That changed Friday as the Seminoles returned three starters from injury, improving their depth to 10 with the return of center Naheem McLeod and the debuts of freshmen De’Ante Green and Chandler Jackson after missing three games.

McLeod fouled out in just 11 minutes, grabbed four rebounds and scored no points on just one field goal attempt.

Jackson and Green played sparingly, two and one minutes, respectively. It may take them some time to adjust to the speed of the college game and FSU’s system, especially coming off injuries.

That didn’t improve FSU’s result against the Gators. It can close the gap, especially if FSU is going to keep its offensive attack up to speed, as it has through four games.


FSU’s next chance to snap its losing streak comes Monday night.

The Seminoles host Mercer at 6:30 p.m. in the ACC Network as they try to avoid dropping to 0-5. Mercer (1-2) plays Winthrop on Saturday.

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