Florida State opened their men's basketball season with a 91-67 win over the Jacksonville Dolphins on Friday night. Senior forward Okaro White lead the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore Devon Bookert added 16 points and nine boards and the Seminoles cruised.
"I'm not sure we played particularly well tonight, but we still scored 91 points," said head coach Leonard Hamilton after the game. "I think a lot of that was because of the way the game is officiated today and they've tried to eliminate the physicality in the game and have a more free-flowing type of game."
"I thought we played hard and we were aggressive, I thought the first half we turned the ball over and that lead to baskets for them. In the second half we turned the ball over eight times but it didn't lead to those easy baskets."
It didn't start easily for Florida State. The Seminoles were sloppy in the early going, turning the ball over 12 times in a first half that saw eight lead changes and plenty of offensive miscues and mistakes. On the other end of the court the Seminoles were slow closing out on shots and let the Dolphins shoot at a 44.8 percent over the first 20 minutes.
Come halftime the Seminoles were hanging on to a seven point, 43-36, lead.
"We're a team in flux right now," said Hamilton. "We've been without three of our top six players the last few weeks."
But things got better after some halftime adjustments. The second half saw FSU come out shooting 55% while their defense clamped down and held JU to just 37% the rest of the way.
A lot of that had to do with getting two of those three players back too.
After sitting out both of Florida State's exhibition games and the first half of the opener, guards Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas got back on the floor for the Seminoles a few minutes into the second half and the 'Noles ran a three guard set for the majority of the latter half of the game.
Miller had eight points and four assists in 18 second half minutes while Thomas contributed ten points and three rebounds.
Their return was much needed, Bookert played all 20 minutes in the first half and -- even with Miller and Thomas in the lineup -- played 12 more in the second half. Bookert's final line (16 points, nine boards, five steals and two assists) is made even more impressive when you consider he had just one turnover on the evening.
"He's playing too many minutes, we definitely don't want to have him playing [that many] minutes, that won't work in the long haul," said Hamilton. "Having those two guys back in the rotation obviously helps."
Added Bookert: “They always bring energy, they’re great scorers too and they really spread out the floor, especially with AT’s slashing ability and then Ian creating it for other people and hitting threes and stuff like that.”
For Jacksonville it was all about their guard play, their trio of starting guards combined for 39 of their 67 points -- including 22 in the first half -- but cooled down once Florida State started closing out better in the second half.
FSU plays next on November 13th when they travel to UCF.
Notebook: After the game Leonard Hamilton said he thinks Aaron Thomas could evolve into a better defender than Michael Snaer was, he has better lateral quickness... Kiel Turpin is still about a week away, per Hamilton... You may have heard the JU fans heckling Montay Brandon, he did, “Yeah I heard them a little bit, but for the most part I’m zoned in during the game.” Brandon was being dogged for about ten minutes before going off for eight points in about 120 seconds midway through the first half. “It definitely felt good [to shut them up] a little bit," said Brandon. "They were starting to get rowdy over there.”
For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...Follow @PatrikNohe_MH