Leading the way was Michael Joiner with 17 points on 8 of 9 shooting. He wasn't alone in double figures as Tim Pickett added 14 canning some massively long range threes. Anthony Richardson and Trevor Harvey had 12 and 10 points respectively both contributing the slam-dunk portion of tonight's show.
Then there was the defense. If the Seminoles weren't busy holding the Bears to just 28% shooting, they were stealing the ball. Fifteen of them to be exact that contributed to 23 total turnovers by Mercer. Add in 12 blocked shots and the Noles' just suffocated the Bears' offense. In fact Mercer had only one spot of back to back baskets in the entire game. By that time that occurred FSU led 69-35.
Aleem Muhammed led all the Mercer scorers with 13 points. The strength of Mercer's offense, their frontcourt was completely shut down with the trio of Scott Emerson, Wesley Dukes, and Justin Howard combining for a total of 18 points. And seven of those came in the closing minutes long after the outcome was already known.
Nate Johnson spotted Joiner cutting to the hoop for an easy alley oop dunk to start the scoring. Joiner, off a Trevor Harvey steal, followed a Pickett bucket. Johnson nailed a three on their way to a 9-2 early lead. Meanwhile Mercer had already committed 3 turnovers.
Later in the first period it was Richardson's show. A 3 on 1 break begun by a Todd Galloway steal ended with a Richardson slam. A couple of minutes later Richardson went the length of the court down the left side, turned right at the baseline, and finished the play with a reverse layup. The Noles' now led 23-8 with 10:15 left in the half.
At every official timeout, FSU continued to increase the lead. By the half, Florida State had a commanding 36-19 lead.
Coach Leonard Hamilton made sure that large lead did not result in complacency by his troops. The second half began as the first with Joiner putting in yet another alley oop assisted by a Pickett steal. Harvey stole the ball moments later and took it in himself.
Mercer attempting to slow the streaking Seminoles went to a 1-3-1-zone defense. So much for that strategy as Pickett fired in 4 three pointers over the next three plus minutes. Radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff exaggeratedly described one rainbow as coming from 32 feet out. Mercer abandoned the zone and now found themselves down 58-23.
Again several minutes later the Anthony Richardson show returned with get out the camera back to back slams. Not wanting to be outdone by Joiner, Pickett assisted on an alley oop to the former McDonald's All American and a 73-35 lead.
The benchwarmers of Benson Callier, Will Wightman, Nate Moran, and Orien Fells made their way into the game shortly thereafter. Even though there were some breakdowns it wasn't for lack of effort. Obviously the Hamilton mantra of defense first has made its way down the entire bench.
Hamilton was pleased with the better offensive execution of his young squad. The unselfishness aspect did not unnoticed as well as his team produced 20 assists. But, it was just one more step in a learning process that gets even tougher test with the Iowa Hawkeyes coming to town next Monday. The game, part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, will be shown on ESPN2 beginning at 9:00 PM.
But, as Hamilton implored in the post game show, they really feed off of people in the seats and to come out and support this team.