As effective as Anthony Richardson's 18 points were, his defense was spectacular. The sophomore wing player swatted away a career high 5 blocked shots and changed the direction of several others. One attempt forced the Tech shooter to clang the ball off the top of the backboard. Just for good measure he dished out 5 assists as well making it an all around outstanding performance.
Despite putting up ten less shots, FSU's offense was a very efficient 49% from the floor bolstered by a blistering 60% in the first half. On the other side of the ball, the Seminole's defense in the first half was stifling holding Tech to 29% shooting and without a basket for nearly eight minutes.
It was FSU's bench however that were the difference makers. With starter Michael Joiner picking up his second foul just 2:14 into the game, Adam Waleskowski made the most of opportunity scoring a career high 12 points. That helped give the ‘Noles a huge 27-3 edge in bench points. Todd Galloway and Mike Mathews, the only other Seminoles to come off the bench, scored 9 and 6 points respectively.
Overall the Seminoles did a decent job on the boards outrebounding Tech 36-34. Again it was the bench that was the major contributor with Waleskowski and Galloway collecting 6 rebounds each.
Adding to the inside attack was Trevor Harvey's 12 points.
An early 7:30 AM shoot around seemed to agree with the Seminoles. During pregame warmups it was apparent as FSU were swishing all their shots. It carried over for the first twenty minutes.
It looked as though Tech's Chris Bosh would have one of those games. The first basket of the game was an offensive putback by Bosh. He followed Ed Nelson's basket with a rare three-point shot when he was left wide open on the baseline. B J Elder, who scored a game high 19 points, added a three from the left side. Shooting an early 57%, Tech had built a 10-4 lead and eventually a15-8 lead at the 13:24 mark.
It was Waleskowski's three-pointer, just his second of the season, from above the key that sparked the Seminoles. He followed that a short jumper from the left side baseline. Mathews added a five footer from the right side and the game was tied at 17.
Tech had pulled out to four point lead when FSU went on a 16-2 run. It began with Galloway driving the lane and dishing out to the left corner where Nate Johnson knocked down the three ball. It ended when Pickett stole the ball from Bosh and raced down the near sideline for the layup. FSU now led 33-23 with 5:32 left in the half.
The only points Tech could muster were from free throws. The Jackets last basket had occurred at the 10:15 mark. From that point on FSU viciously contested every shot. Tech did not score another basket until 2:39 were left.
Following to Jarret Jack (15 points) free throws, Tech switched back to a man defense. That didn't work either as FSU went on a 12-3 run to finish out the half. Again Waleskowski sparked the run when Galloway spotted him on the right wing and Adam nailed the three with just one second on the shot clock. Galloway got into the fun as well when he stripped Bosh in the defensive end and pulled up in the left corner to knock down the three. Mathews ended the half with a layup assisted by Johnson with one second remaining.
The second half was a little bit of a different story. What ever Tech coach Paul Hewitt said in the locker room worked. Apparently that message was get the ball to Elder. By the time 2:52 had gone off the clock, Tech had narrowed the lead to single digits, 49-41. Edler was responsible for 9 of those points scoring from just about everywhere on the court.
Tech kept coming at the Seminoles who seemed to be a bit back on their heels. Elder was wide open on the right wing when he hit the three-pointer. FSU led by just four 57-53 with 10:05 to play.
In what proved to be some very crucial points, Richardson sank two free throws and slam-dunked a basket. Richardson made a nice one handed bounce pass to Harvey cutting to the rim for the slam-dunk and a 63-54 FSU lead at the 5:38 mark.
FSU missed three straight crucial free throws that could have made Tech's task almost impossible. That allowed the Yellow Jackets to make one more run at the ‘Noles. It was Jack who took matters into his own hands by relentlessly attacking the basket. His bank shot runner followed by another runner in the lane narrowed the lead to 65-61 with 2:01 to play.
Galloway missed a driving layup, but so did Jack at the other end. Johnson made one of two from the line. Then came the crucial defensive play of the game. Tech got the ball to Ismail Muhammed. Not known as a ball handler, Pickett switched over to defend him. Pickett's pressure forced the steal in front of Hewitt's bench with :53 to play and FSU leading 66-61.
Tech was now forced into fouling and committed their tenth team foul. Galloway made one of the two attempts.
To virtually seal the win for the ‘Noles, Richardson stole the ball from Jack as he crossed into the lane. Galloway was alone in the middle over the timeline for the easy outlet pass and layup. Pickett added two free throws to end FSU's scoring.
Some silly mistakes at the end by FSU were far too late for Tech to capitalize on and Jack made a meaningless layup at the other end with :05 left. The loss keeps Tech winless on the road in ACC league play.
The Seminoles will also attempt to get their first ACC road win of the season Tuesday night at North Carolina State. Tip off is at 7:00 PM.