Florida State Uses Defense to Beat UB, 95-68
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Despite a promising performance from a trio of players, the Buffalo (0-2) men's basketball team could not withstand the pressure of the Florida State Seminole (1-1) defense Monday night, turning the ball over 25 times in a 95-68 loss. Javon McCrea and Tony Watson each had 17 points for UB, while Xavier Ford had a career night with 16 points in 23 minutes. The game was the first of the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
The Seminoles led wire-to-wire on the night, and shot 60 percent overall from the floor. After being upset by South Alabama on Friday and shooting just 5-21 from three, FSU hit 10-18 attempts from long distance and wore out the UB offense with a deep bench. Ten different Florida State players saw 12 minutes or more of game time, and the bench contributed 42 in the game compared to just 24 from Buffalo.
In the first half, the Bulls were unable to string together stops and scores, giving FSU a 17 point lead at the half. Ford worked well with McCrea all game, as the pair worked the high-low post offense well to give the two 16 of the team's 30 first-half points. Florida State made eight steals in the first half to create 15 points off of turnovers, a microcosm of the team's offense all game.
"We told them if we completed three or four passes we would get easier and easier shots, and we did," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "The bulk of the defense came in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. We got some easy shots and even still we missed some easy ones. We looked at what they did and we didn't think it would keep us from getting good shots, but it was just the basic passing and catching that got us in trouble."
As the second half got under way, the Bulls were able to take some of the wind out of its opponent's sails and cut the lead to eight at the halfway point of the second period. While there was no one defining run for the Bulls, the team made gashed into what was a 19-point lead with 15:33 remaining in the game. A pair of free throws by Will Regan at the 10:34 mark put UB as close as it ultimately would get, 66-58, before Florida State heated back up thanks to a spurt from All-American candidate Michael Snaer. He would score 10 of his game-high 19 points after the Bulls pulled within eight to energize the crowd of 6510 at the Tucker Center.
The trio of Ford, Watson, and McCrea would continue to chug along over the final half, combining to score 28 of the team's 38 points in the second half. Watson was deadly from deep, much to the delight of his contigent of fans who came to see the West Palm Beach native strike from deep five times to match a career high. Ford was able to get to the basket effectively against an interior defense that offered seven different players who were 6'7 or taller and ranked fifth in field goal defense last season.
While both teams were knotted at 38-38 for points in the paint, it was points off of turnovers that would doom UB. A total of 34 points were scored by Florida State off UB turnovers, including a 14-0 advantage in fast-break points. The Seminole bench also fueled the win, as nine players would score at least six points to give the team a 42-24 advantage. The Bulls were able to able to get meanfingful minutes from Jarryn Skeete and also saw the limited debut of Andre McPhail.
The marathon of five games in seven days continues on Thursday with the first of three games in three days. Coaches vs. Cancer tournament play moves now to Evansville, Indiana as the Bulls play the host Aces on Thursday night. Tip is scheduled for 8 pm Eastern time.