Leonard Hamilton

Turnovers and poor shooting cost Florida State in their 61-56 loss to Mercer

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Given the fact that Florida State lost multiple veterans from last season’s ACC champion squad some ups and downs were to be expected. But few people would have expected the team that won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn to drop home games to South Alabama and now Mercer.

In an ugly offensive showing for both teams the Bears came out on top in the end, with Travis Smith (13 points) and Langston Hall (ten points, five assists and five steals) leading the way in Mercer’s 61-56 victory.

Okaro White led the Seminoles with 14 points before fouling out late in the second half, but he was the lone double-figure scorer for Leonard Hamilton’s team. With the defeat Florida State drops to 4-3 on the season.

The Seminole guards struggled from the field, with Michael Snaer, Ian Miller, Terry Whisnant II and Montay Brandon combining to shoot 5-of-19 from the field, and forward Terrance Shannon (11.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg entering Sunday’s game) made just one of his seven shots from the field.

As a team Florida State shot 35.4% from the field and turned the ball over 18 times, opening the door for the team picked to win the Atlantic Sun in the preseason media poll.

Bob Hoffman’s team didn’t shoot much better from the field, making 37.5% of their shots, but unlike Florida State the Bears made up for that at the foul line. Mercer made 19 of their 23 free throws, including a 4-of-4 stretch in the final 23 seconds, while Florida State shot 16-of-26 from the charity stripe.

Florida State is now 2-3 at home this season with No. 7 Florida visiting on Wednesday night, and given the presence of losses to South Alabama and Mercer on their resume that game becomes even more important than your standard “rivalry game.”

The issue for Florida State hasn’t been shooting, as their field goal percentage ranked second in the ACC (not counting today’s result), but rather turnovers. Sunday’s game is the fifth in which Florida State has turned the ball over at least 17 times, and while they did win three of those games (Buffalo, BYU and North Florida) Hamilton’s young team has to take better care of the basketball.

The growing pains may not be done for the Seminoles given their overall youth, but they better grow up quickly with the Gators headed to town.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.