No. 24 Florida State coasts past Southern Miss.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State and Southern Miss are playing each other in football and basketball within a six-day span.
On Thursday, the Seminoles’ basketball team easily took care of the first half of that matchup.
Headed to a long break before opening Atlantic Coast Conference play, No. 24 Florida State benefited from near record-breaking 3-point shooting to close out its nonconference schedule with a 98-45 rout of the Golden Eagles.
In six days in Shreveport, La., Florida State and Southern Miss’ football teams will face off in the Independence Bowl.
A good omen perhaps?
“It is, it is,” said a smiling Florida State guard Trent Forrest, who dished out a game-high 12 assists and scored seven points in the win. “We played them this week and (our football team) plays them next week, and I feel like it should be about the same outcome.”
The Seminoles made a staggering 19 3-pointers Thursday — one away from tying the school record set in 2007 — and were led by 17 points and seven rebounds from guard P.J. Savoy.
Savoy will now join his teammates with nine days off before Florida State’s next game. That comes Dec. 30 when the Seminoles (11-1) open ACC play at No. 4 Duke, followed by a contest at home Jan. 3 against No. 5 North Carolina and then four days later versus No. 6 Miami.
Florida State’s next two opponents have a combined three losses, while Miami is undefeated.
Savoy made five of the team’s 3-pointers and added a team-high seven rebounds, while guard MJ Walker had five of his own and finished with 15 points. Fellow guard Braian Angola was 3 of 5 from deep and finished with nine points.
“This team has the ability to be a pretty good basketball team, but we’re fighting for consistency,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “But today, we were consistent. They were locked in today.”
Florida State’s only other double-figure scorer was forward Mfiondu Kabengele with 12 points.
The victory was the Seminoles’ 27th straight at home in the Donald L. Tucker Center, where Florida State hasn’t lost since the end of the 2015-16 season. Florida State’s home win streak — the third-longest in the nation — trails only Cincinnati (31) and SMU (29).
And this one was never in doubt.
Florida State built a 25-9 lead in the first half and never relented, taking a 47-21 edge to halftime. The Seminoles, who led by as many as 57 points (98-41) in the second half, shot 60 percent and made nine 3-pointers in the first-half alone.
Southern Miss (7-5), which did not have a player reach double figures, was led in scoring with eight points apiece from forward Eddie Davis and guard Anfernee Hampton. The Golden Eagles shot 27 percent from the floor in the first half and 29.5 percent for the game.
The Seminoles outrebounded Southern Miss 42-28.
Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler said afterward he could find no positives from his team’s performance — but he saw plenty for Florida State.
“Everyone will look at this score and think they are a very good offensive team, but what separates them is their defense,” Sadler said. “The way they contest shots, we can’t simulate that. And they really seem to like each other. You could see the (starters) cheering on the bench guys — who don’t play a lot — when they got playing time near the end of the game.
“I don’t like being on the wrong end of that, but for any coach, that was pretty cool to see how much they were pulling for each other and the culture they have here (at Florida State).”
The Seminoles snapped the Golden Eagles’ four-game win streak with the victory, which was Florida State’s second in a row following Monday’s 69-58 defeat of Charleston Southern.
Southern Miss will try to get back to its winning ways Saturday when it hosts rival Mississippi State — the first of many tough games it too will have to play over the next few weeks. After the game against the Bulldogs, Southern Miss has road contests against Marshall on Dec. 28 and Western Kentucky on Dec. 30 to begin Conference USA play.
NOTES: Florida State’s 19 3-pointers were a season high and one off the school record set on Dec. 8, 2007 in a 95-55 win against Maine. The Seminoles made 14 shots from beyond the arc earlier this year in a 113-78 rout of The Citadel. ... Florida State played — and beat — Southern Miss for the second year in a row after a 25-year gap in the all-time series. The Seminoles trounced the Golden Eagles last season, also in Tallahassee, 98-49 and now lead the series 18-8, including a 12-2 mark at home. ...Southern Miss’ Cortez Edwards and Tyree Griffin, both guards, led the team with three steals each.