LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Quentin Snider scored 20 points, Damion Lee added 14 and No. 17 Louisville had no problem with Florida State in an 84-65 victory on Wednesday night.
Louisville (15-3, 4-1 ACC) was rarely challenged in winning its second straight Atlantic Coast Conference game, shooting 48 percent while outrebounding Florida State 44-36. Chinanu Onuaku had 14 rebounds and 11 points for his fifth straight double-double, all coming in league play.
Freshman guard Donovan Mitchell added 13 points for the Cardinals, including a monstrous one-handed dunk in the first half that charged a crowd of 21,349 in the late-evening game. Leading 22-15 at that point, Louisville never looked back in building a lead that reached 32.
Malik Beasley scored 23 points and Devon Bookert had 18 in his first start of the season for Florida State (12-6, 2-4), which had its two-game winning streak stopped.
The 2015 recruiting class put together by Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton and his staff has been hailed as one of the better hauls in the country, with this talented group (led by Dwayne Bacon) expected to give the program a much-needed boost this coming season. They join a backcourt that has two seniors in Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon, and the point guard position is a spot where Florida State was in need of an addition.
Saturday night the Seminoles landed their point guard, as Arsenal Tech (Indianapolis, Indiana) point guard C.J. Walker announced via Twitter that he’s committed to the ACC school. The 6-foot Walker, who was originally a Purdue commit and attends at the same high school that produced former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles, is Florida State’s second commit in the Class of 2016.
Four-star shooting guard Trent Forrest verbally committed to Florida State in early May.
“He’s a left-handed guard who had a really good spring,” NBC Sports recruiting insider Scott Phillips said of Walker. “He has the ability to hit shots and also create for others, and he’s really good in pick and roll situations.
“He’s a nice piece for Florida State because it gives them a point guard who can really distribute, and he isn’t afraid to get guys the ball given all the talented wings and two-guards they’ve added in these last few recruiting classes.”
Walker played for the Speice Indy Heat program this spring, averaging 16.8 points and 2.8 assists per game in Nike EYBL play. In 2016 he’ll join a backcourt that is currently filled with underclassmen.
Bookert, Brandon and junior college transfer Benji Bell are the only scholarship upperclassmen on the perimeter, with sophomores Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Robbie Berwick and freshmen Bacon, Malik Beasley and Terance Mann completing the group.
Rathan-Mayes, an ACC All-Freshman Team selection, led Florida State in both scoring and assists in 2014-15.
Florida State junior guard Aaron Thomas finished the 2013-14 season in solid fashion, averaging 17.4 points per game on a team that reached the semifinals of the Postseason NIT. With Xavier Rathan-Mayes eligible to play after sitting out all of last season as a non-qualifier, Florida State was expected to have one of the better perimeter tandems in the ACC.
Unfortunately for head coach Leonard Hamilton he won’t have that luxury in 2014-15, as it was announced on the eve of the team’s ACC opener at Notre Dame that Thomas has been ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season. Thomas was leading the Seminoles in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per contest, and in Florida State’s 96-73 win over UCF on December 6 he scored 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field.
The loss of Thomas is another blow Florida State has been dealt at this early juncture in the season, with Devon Bookert currently out after re-injuring the foot he originally broke in the spring. Add in Robbie Berwick playing with a broken nose, and the Seminoles are nowhere near 100 percent on the perimeter.
The loss of Thomas puts even more pressure on guards Rathan-Mayes and Montay Brandon as well. Rathan-Mayes is averaging 12.3 points and 4.0 assists per game, and he’s been asked to be both a scorer and distributor for Florida State. Brandon’s averaging 13.4 points per contest, and he scored 23 points in the Seminoles’ win over UCF.
Without Thomas, those two become even more important to a team that was picked to finish eighth in the preseason ACC media poll.