Florida State might not be ranked in the Top 25, as it was to open the season.
But the Seminoles’ defense is still one of the nation’s best, as it proved Sunday during a 73-45 victory over Loyola Marymount in the Jacksonville Classic.
FSU (3-1) will look to keep it going in the championship round of the tournament when it plays Missouri (3-1) on Monday night in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Seminoles used intense pressure to force 24 turnovers and hold the Lions to 17 points in the first half. FSU scored 33 points off those Loyola Marymount giveaways.
“Any time you hold an opponent to 17 points in the first half, it’s some good defensive basketball,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game.
Freshman Matthew Cleveland led the Seminoles with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting despite playing just 17 minutes. Malik Osborne and Tanor Ngom, who made his first career start, each had 10 points.
FSU broke the game open with one of its better shooting performances of the early season, making 8 of 19 attempts from 3-point range.
Missouri’s own defense helped it rally from a 13-point second-half deficit to beat SMU 80-75 in overtime in the other first-round game of the Jacksonville Classic. Ten of SMU’s 15 turnovers came in the second half and overtime as the Tigers also outrebounded the Mustangs 49-34.
Kobe Brown finished with a career-high 24 points and seven rebounds to lead Missouri, which had four players score in double figures. Ronnie DeGray III totaled 18 points and six rebounds while Dajuan Gordon and Amari Davis each had 14 points.
“I’ve never been one to give in or give up. We just had to stay focused and stay locked in on your assignments, and just down the stretch give everything you’ve got,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said on CBS Sports Network’s postgame interview. “I think once our guys understood and really slowed down offensively, it allowed us to win the game.”
–Field Level Media