Florida State (3-0) had little trouble beating the University of Tennessee-Martin (1-4) on Sunday afternoon. The Seminoles used a 20-4 first half run to put some distance between themselves and the Skyhawks and never looked back, winning handily 89-61.
Playing in special turquoise Nike N7 uniforms -- part of a Nike tribute to Native American culture -- FSU out-classed head coach Leonard Hamilton's alma mater on both ends of the floor on Sunday afternoon.
"Boy I think they're really good," said UT-Martin head coach Jason James. "I think their length gives people problems, I told coach before the game I think they have interchangable part but the difference between a lot of teams and them is their interchangable parts are 6-7, 6-8, 6-9, so you've got different guys that can do different things on the floor, they can play small... or they can play big. They're really talented."
UT-Martin played Florida State close through the first ten minutes -- it was 13-12 at the second media timeout -- but once the Seminoles got started on their run there was very little the Skyhawks could do.
"It was obvious we got off to a slow start in the game, that does concern me a little bit. I thought that we really picked it up in the latter part of the first half," said head coach Leonard Hamilton.
Ian Miller lead the way with 13 first-half points -- he would finish with 20 -- and FSU was shooting 53.6% when it headed into the locker-room with a 41-23 lead.
"It was just my teammates finding me, my teammates understand that if I make one, I can make two, I can make three, I can just go on and on," said Miller after the game. "The easy part is taking the shot, the hardest part is creating and Devin [Bookert] and those guys created open shots for me, they did a great job [this afternoon]."
It was more of the same in the second half as Florida State pulled away from UT-Martin and started to get deeper into its rotation. By the ten minute mark -- with FSU already well ahead -- the game essentially turned into a free-throw shooting contest. The officials called 28 UT-Martin fouls and FSU shot 39 free throws one the day -- hitting 30 of them. On the afternoon the Seminoles shot 58.7%.
It looked good for FSU defensively too. The Seminoles held the Skyhawks to just 35.3% shooting, forced 19 turnovers, -- including 11 steals -- blocked seven shots and only allowed UT-Martin to get to the free throw stripe ten times.
"We have grown up, we've gotten more mature," said sophomore G Aaron Thomas. "We're just trying to stay on the same page, no one is thinking about themselves we're just coming together as a team."
Thomas lead the defensive effort with six steals, he also scored a career-high 19 points and added two assists and a rebound off the bench.
Miller's 20 points and five assists lead the Seminole scoring, Okaro White had 17 points and four rebounds and Bookert had 13 points and five assists.
Next up for Florida State is a trip to Puerto Rico to for the Puerto Rico Tipoff Classic in San Juan, they'll face VCU on November 21st and either Long Beach State or Michigan the following day.
Notebook: Hamilton said that he doesn't feel this team has a starting five right now, he has nine players he feels comfortable giving minutes to... Aaron Thomas' career day was encouraging to Hamilton who has been concerned about how the new rules would affect his defensive system... FSU had 19 turnovers, something Hamilton said he was very concerned about... This was Leonard Hamilton's 200th win at FSU... Hamilton said after the game that despite playing his alma mater, he didn't get caught up in sentimental stuff, "it was a business date."
[Photo used courtesy of Travis Register]
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