December 8, 2013 - by
‘Noles Cruise

Dec. 8, 2013

Florida State 77, Jax State 53

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By Bob Thomas, Associate SID

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A reprieve in the midst of a rigorous schedule came at just the right time for the Florida State basketball team.

The Seminoles shot 54.5 percent from the floor, scored 28 points in the paint and turned 16 Jacksonville State turnovers into 27 points, cruising to a 77-53 victory, Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center. It was a much-needed win for the `Noles (6-3), who had dropped three of their last four games.

Those losses, however, came to Michigan, Florida and Minnesota.

Okaro White and Boris Bojanovsky led four Seminole double-figure scorers with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Montay Brandon added 14 points and Aaron Thomas chipped in 12.

“I think you could probably sum it up by saying, `too much’,” Jacksonville State coach James Green said, in sizing up the mismatch. “They shoot 55 percent from the field and when you play a team on their home court that is bigger, stronger and more talented … you’re going to have yourself a 20-point ballgame.”

The Gamecocks (3-7) were largely unsuccessful in their attempt to control the tempo after the Seminoles used a 20-4 first half run to open up a 19-point lead, then sealed the win spurts of 10 and 11 unanswered points in the second half.

There was little doubt about the outcome after the Seminoles carried a 37-20 lead into the locker room at the half.

White (14 points) and Bojanovsky (10) fueled the Seminoles, who seized control of the game with a 20-4 run over an eight-minute stretch in the opening half. FSU led 10-7 before consecutive 3-pointers by Brandon and Jarquez Smith triggered a 10-0 run. The 7-foot-3 Bojanovsky scored FSU’s next six points with two free throws, a 15-foot jumper and a layup off a Devin Bookert feed to push the Seminoles’ lead to 22-9.

White took over from there with consecutive dunks – on an offensive rebound and a pass from Ian Miller – before Brandon contributed a pair free throws. White’s second offensive rebound basket in an 8-0 run pushed the Seminoles’ lead to 30-11 – their largest of the opening half.

It was White’s most productive performance – and perhaps his most assertive offensive effort – since he scored 18 against Michigan in Puerto Rico.

“I definitely feel like that, on nights that we come out slow, or just to get everybody else going,” said the senior forward, who converted seven of nine shots. “I’m just trying to look for whatever the defenders are giving me. I saw they were giving me the 3-point shot, so I was letting them fly.”

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, who remains concerned about his team’s rebounding and tendency to turn the ball over, still likes the progress the `Noles are showing.

“I like the direction we’re moving in,” he said. “Anytime you shoot 55 percent you’re happy with that. …
I think we had a better balance of an inside-outside attack.”

The continued development of Bojanovsky, who registered his third consecutive double-figure scoring performance – and fellow sophomore frontcourt mate Michael Ojo – also drew praise from the veteran coach.

“Boris is a very unselfish player and has a high basketball IQ,” Hamilton said. “He’s growing. He’s finishing his plays. I thought his defense was pretty good. What you see now is him being a little more instinctive that he has been.”

The Slovak Republic big man agreed.

“I’m more comfortable taking shots and playing within the system,” Bojanovsky said. “My teammates are finding me open. I’m much more confident and comfortable than I was before. … I’m getting more opportunities and I’m trying to take advantage of it.”

“We’ve been telling him to be aggressive and I think it’s finally hitting him,” White said Bojanovsky. “He’s probably the most skilled guy out there on the floor so he needs to be aggressive; we need him to be aggressive.”

Ojo scored just three points, but grabbed seven rebounds in 17 minutes.

Florida State will break for exams and return to the court on Dec. 17 at home against Charlotte.

Notes: Bojanovsky connected on all five of his shots and has now converted 16 consecutive field goal attempts, dating to his 0 for 1 performance against Northeastern (Nov. 24)…the Seminoles connected on seven 3-pointers, their most since draining eight in the season-opener…the 53 points by the Gamecocks were the fewest allowed by FSU this season…the 20 first-half points by Jacksonville State was also the fewest the `Noles have allowed in the first 20 minutes this season…freshman Jarquez Smith scored a career-high seven points in 15 minutes of action, his most since the Northeastern game.

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