TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) — On a night where former Seminole Aubry Boyd was honored, Florida State defeated Valdosta State 99-77.
The game against the Blazers marked the Seminoles’ final exhibition before the Fresh from Florida Sunshine State Showdown between the Seminoles and the Florida Gators.
Redshirt freshman RaiQuan Gray scored the first seven points of the game for the Seminoles on a pair of smooth driving lay-ins and a three-point bomb from the wing. A quick 7-0 run gave FSU a 21-13 lead at the 12:06 mark after a short jumper from freshman Devin Vassell.
Later in the half an 8-0 run, spurted by strong defense and attacking the basket, gave the Seminoles a 29-16 lead with 9:22 left. Trent Forrest’s driving and-one lay-up capped the run for Florida State. On the night, the Seminoles scored 64 points in the paint.
A Christ Koumadje dunk with 2:26 left before the break gave FSU its largest lead of the half at 45-26 and the Seminoles went into the locker room at halftime leading 47-35.
The Blazers proved to be a formidable exhibition opponent, picked in the Top 15 of the D2 pre-season polls, as they cut the FSU lead to 56-47 in the early moments of the second half.
“That was a really good team for us to play against,” said Seminole Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. They are a team that executes as well. But more than anything, it’s one of those teams that won’t miss any uncontested shots. I think we bit on a lot of shot fakes that some of our inexperienced guys flying around. Our effort was pretty good. I think our execution on the defensive end, like not staying on our feet, was challenged by them. They won 28 games last year, they’re pretty experienced. Each time we got the lead to 20, somehow we would let them back in.”
The Seminoles put their foot on the gas pedal as the game wore on, with Vassell providing a highlight alley-oop slam from a feed by sophomore Wyatt Wilkes to extend the lead to 66-49 with 12:49 left in the game.
The freshman has impressed this pre-season, finishing with 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting in 17 minutes of action.
Terance Mann’s reverse dunk with a defender in his face brought the crowd to its feet as it extended the Florida State lead to 74-56 with 7:49 left in the game. The senior’s slam in transition later in the game gave the Seminoles an 86-66 lead with 4:16 left in the game.
The exclamation point came from none other than Mann as he received a pass from sophomore M.J. Walker in the lane and soared for an emphatic one-hand slam to cap a strong night. Mann finished the night with 14 points and two rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
“I feel like my IQ has made improvements,” said Walker. “Just seeing the floor more and defensively, I’m feeling more comfortable on the floor. Last year I was playing out of instinct instead of playing out of the plays from our playbook that we studied before the game. I feel like I’ve done better defensively. I’ve still got to get better, still have to learn, so I’m just keeping it going.”
The Seminoles shot 62 percent from the floor (40-65) on the night, including 7 of 16 from beyond the arc.
Forrest led FSU with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the win.
“We don’t have a lot of tune up games and next Tuesday we’ve got to be ready,” said Hamilton. “I think most teams are in that situation this time of year. I think it’s obvious we have a pretty good team, but it’s obvious we got a lot of work to do in order for us to be where we want to be.”
Florida State’s game against in-state rival Florida is set for November 6th at 9 PM inside the Donald L. Tucker Center and will be televised on ESPN2. Limited tickets are still available.