No. 24 Florida State tops feisty Charleston Southern
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — No. 24 Florida State didn’t look great Monday night. Perhaps the Seminoles are already looking ahead to Dec. 30 and their Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 4 Duke.
Either way, Florida State will take a 69-58 bounce-back win Monday against a scrappy Charleston Southern just two days after taking its first loss of the season, to Oklahoma State.
“Tonight, it was never more evident to me that we are a team with a lot of potential, but we are still a work in progress,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team raced out to a 9-0 record before falling in the final seconds Saturday to the Cowboys, 71-70.
“We’ve shown to be vulnerable, but it’s nothing that’s not fixable. We’re still growing, and we have a lot of room to improve.”
Florida State (10-1) was led by forward Phil Cofer with 19 points and six rebounds. He didn’t hesitate for a second when asked if he felt good from the moment the ball was tipped.
“I did,” said Cofer, who led the Seminoles for the second straight game after dropping a team-high 22 points on Saturday. “We’re doing the simple stuff (right) right now. Moving without the ball, finding the open man and getting the wide-open shots.”
The Seminoles, who dropped from No. 19 in the AP Top 25 Poll to No. 24 on Monday, were sluggish early in their rebound game against Charleston Southern. However, Florida State steadied the ship thanks in part to 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds from guard Terance Mann.
Florida State came into the series having never lost in the two teams’ 10 previous meetings, and the Seminoles entered the Monday game as 26-point favorites. Even so, the Buccaneers (4-6) gave Florida State all it could handle.
Charleston Southern held the lead for a good portion of the first half before Florida State regained it with just under seven minutes to play. The Seminoles took a 28-26 edge to intermission.
The 28 points were Florida State’s lowest output in the first half this season.
The Buccaneers tried to keep it close in the second half behind a game-high 21 points and six rebounds from guard Christian Keeling. However, Florida State used a 16-4 run in the first 5:30 after halftime — highlighted by three steals and a rim-rattling alley-oop from Mann to center Ike Obiagu — to begin pulling away and send Charleston Southern to its fourth straight loss.
“We come down here and play a lot because of the class of this program (they have at Florida State) and because I feel like they make us better,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “So tonight was good for us. We grew up a little bit tonight. And if you take away seven or eight minutes in the second half when we couldn’t attack (Florida State’s) zone, this game would’ve been even closer.”
The Buccaneers also got a double-figure game from forward Travis McConico, who dropped 17 points and pulled down nine boards. No other player reached double digits in the loss for Charleston Southern, which was without the services of its second-leading scorer, guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr.
Radebaugh said after the game that Fleming sustained a severely sprained toe in the Buccaneers’ last game against Eastern Kentucky and would be out for the next 10 days.
“Always hurts when you lose your second-leading scorer, and we’re lucky he didn’t break it and will be out even longer,” Radebaugh said. “But we lost by 11, so we could’ve used his 12 points tonight, no doubt.”
Florida State’s Braian Angola finished with 11 points in the win and was the Seminoles’ only other double-figure scorer.
Florida State will look to make it two in a row when it hosts Southern Miss on Thursday. The Buccaneers will try to snap their skid when they host JWU-Charlotte, also on Thursday.
NOTES: With their victory Monday night, the Seminoles have won 26 straight games on their home floor dating back to the end of the 2016 season. Florida State’s home winning streak is the third longest in the nation. ... Monday’s trip by the Buccaneers to Tallahassee marked the fifth straight season and sixth time in seven years Charleston Southern has traveled to play a game at Florida State. ... Florida State G Braian Angola led the team with three steals, and Seminoles C Ike Obiagu had a team-high three blocks in the Monday win.