SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — With less than 30 seconds left and the game decided, Florida State’s Jarquez Smith was still making it tough for South Florida to get the ball to the basket.
Smith swatted away an attempt in the closing moments to give the Seminoles a school record-tying 15 blocked shots, and they beat South Florida 75-62 Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.
Smith had six blocks and scored eight consecutive points during a pivotal stretch. His block total was a season high for the 6-foot-9 freshman, and 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky added three blocks.
“We challenged our big guys to be a lot more assertive,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “South Florida wanted to go inside. That was their game plan, and we wanted to be assertive, and tonight was one of those nights that our guys were.”
The Seminoles (6-5) have won five consecutive games in the Orange Bowl Classic since December 2005. South Florida (5-6) lost its fifth consecutive game.
Devon Bookert had a career-high 22 points on 12 shots for Florida State and was voted the game’s outstanding player. Smith added 16 points, and Kiel Turpin had 13, both in reserve roles.
Smith played 24 minutes and Turpin 20
.”While we’re on the bench watching the other guys play, we see the adjustments that need to be made,” Smith said.
“By the time we go in the game, we just make those adjustments. We just lock down on defense.”
Corey Allen Jr. scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Bulls. He shot 12 for 21, while his teammates went 12 for 43 (28 percent).
Chris Perry, a 6-8 forward averaging 13.3 points per game, had five shots blocked.
He went 1 for 13 and scored three points
.The Bulls made 47 percent of their shots that weren’t blocked by the Seminoles.
“They’re a really big athletic team, and we knew that going in,” South Florida coach Orlando Antigua said. “Early on it might have intimidated some of us. Some of our guys started ball-faking instead of playing through the contact and trying to finish high on the basket.”
Coming into the game, Florida State had only 32 blocks all season.
“We have not been very disruptive, and that’s been the challenge for our team,” Hamilton said.
South Florida fell behind 25-14 and scored eight consecutive points in the second half to trail only 40-38, but could get no closer. Smith’s eight points in a row put the Seminoles up 52-42, and the margin was at least seven the rest of the way.
Florida State shot 59 percent in the second half and 49 percent for the game.
“We are searching for our identity,” Hamilton said. “We had spurts when we executed real well. We’re a work in progress.”
Florida State: The Seminoles’ school record for blocked shots was set in 1994-95 against Florida Atlantic. They tied the record in 2011-12 against Virginia Tech.
South Florida: The Bulls made consecutive 3-pointers after a three-game stretch of missing 29 of 31 from beyond the arc. That included going 0 for 9 in their last game, a loss to Seton Hall.
MIXED STAT LINE
Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes had seven points, nine assists and six rebounds — but also six turnovers.
PICKING UP THE PACE
The Seminoles have averaged 81.8 points in the past four games. They averaged 66.6 before that.
Florida State plays host to Stetson on Monday.
South Florida hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday.