No. 19 Seminoles brace for North Florida’s hot shooting

NCAA Men's Basketball
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No. 19 Florida State has won eight of its past nine games and will try to stay hot against the 3-point attack of regional foe North Florida, which visits Tallahassee, Fla., on Tuesday.

The Seminoles (8-2) opened the season with a 63-61 loss to ACC opponent Pittsburgh but have just one blemish since then — an 80-64 defeat at Indiana on Dec. 3 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

FSU, which has posted wins over Florida, Purdue and Tennessee, is coming off a 72-53 victory over Clemson on Dec. 8. The win required a second-half comeback and improved the Seminoles’ home record to 5-0. Guard Devin Vassell led the way with 14 points and is averaging a team-high 12.4 points.

“Our kids defensively adjusted. The energy, the effort; we were sounder,” said coach Leonard Hamilton, whose Seminoles outscored Clemson 45-20 in the second half.

“Anytime you have nine blocks, that helps. Holding them to 20 points in the second half says a lot about our guys’ determination, effort and commitment to going out and getting stops. We’re still searching and trying to figure out how to utilize and feel confident with our players.”

North Florida (7-5) is 5-0 at home this season but just 1-4 in road games. The Ospreys are coming off a 72-69 win at Southern Miss on Saturday.

North Florida forward Carter Hendricksen scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Southern Miss. Guards JT Escobar and Garrett Sams added 14 points apiece. Hendricksen averages team-highs with 17.2 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent (34 of 80) from 3-point range.

North Florida leads the nation with 12.4 makes per game from beyond the arc. The Ospreys, who have posted double-digit treys in 10 of 12 games, will test a Florida State defense that allows opponents to shoot 37.5 percent overall, 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.

“When you have the ability like we do to make plays, especially threes, it can separate things and kind of put yourself into a good situation,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said after Saturday’s win.

“We are one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country and the best 3-point shooting team and we showed that. … It wasn’t picture perfect nor exactly what we wanted, but to get a win on the road against a Conference USA squad is a huge day for us and a big win.”

North Florida entered the week 12th nationally from the free throw line, making 78.6 percent. The Ospreys hit 37.8 percent of their 3-point tries.

They are in the midst of a stretch of seven consecutive road contests, with their next home appearance coming Jan. 9 against Florida Gulf Coast University.

Tuesday’s game will be Driscoll’s 61st contest against a Power 5 program, but the Ospreys are just 2-58 in those games. These teams met last December in Tallahassee, with the Seminoles posting a 95-81 victory.

Florida State is looking for its 37th consecutive nonconference home win.

–Field Level Media

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