TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)Florida State showed its depth as the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Seminoles opened their season with a resounding victory.
M.J. Walker scored 17 points and Balsa Koprivica added 13 as No. 22 Florida State beat North Florida 86-58 on Wednesday night.
The Seminoles have a new look without NBA lottery picks Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell as well as a leader in point guard Trent Forrest. But Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton showed off its deep roster, using 12 players and giving four newcomers significant minutes.
”I don’t think we can win with six or seven players,” Hamilton said. ”We have to get the full complement of our guys some minutes so we can evaluate them, so they can get a feel for what it is like playing at that level. There’s no doubt that we’re still developing, trying to become the team that we think we can become.”
One of those pieces with promise is Scottie Barnes, the ACC’s preseason freshman of the year, who had eight points and team highs with six rebounds and six assists. Barnes had a quiet night early, missing his first five shots before finishing 5 of 11 from the floor. But he had a highlight-worthy moment when he took Wyatt Wilkes’ length-of-the-court toss before passing the ball around his back and finishing with a dunk in the second half.
Another newcomer, junior college transfer guard Sardaar Calhoun, had eight points on 3-of-6 shooting – including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Transfer center Tanor Ngom had three points and three rebounds, while freshman center Quincy Ballard added two points. Those contributions may seem small, but it is part of the big picture to the Seminoles’ long-term plans.
”I’m glad that all of them got a chance to play today,” said Walker, a guard who has taken on more of a leadership role as a senior. ”Just having a game like this, to be able to have them come in and get those minutes and build that confidence is key for us moving forward. Because the way we play, we play everybody.”
Dorian James had 13 points and Jacob Crews added 12 for North Florida (0-4), which shot 11 for 27 (40.7 percent) on 3-pointers. UNF posted double figures in 3s made for the third time in four games.
But the Ospreys were short-handed without Carter Hendrickson, who averaged 17.3 points in UNF’s first three games, and is expected to miss a few weeks with a foot injury.
”Really nice to see Jacob step up when his number was called tonight,” UNF coach Matthew Driscoll said. ”Not only did Jacob deliver in Carter Hendricksen’s absence but Dorian also played a lot of minutes and produced.”
While the Ospreys were consistent from long range, they were just 8 of 23 on 2-point shots.
The Seminoles shot 32 of 70 (45.7 percent) from the floor.
Florida State outrebounded UNF 42-27. RaiQuan Gray, Koprivica and Wilkes had five rebounds apiece.
Florida St. made a good first impression on voters but won’t have a chance to really move up until a matchup with Indiana next week.
MEN OF STEAL
RaiQuan Gray had four of Florida State’s 12 steals. The Seminoles forced UNF into 24 turnovers, which in turn led to 29 points.
Florida State averaged 7.9 turnovers last season.
North Florida: UNF fell behind early and trailed by double figures much of the night. The Ospreys are now 0-21 all-time against ACC schools, including losses at NC State and Miami in November.
Florida State: The Seminoles showed off their depth, using 12 players – with all of them scoring a point. The Seminoles’ bench contributed 33 points.
North Florida: at High Point on Saturday
Florida State: hosts Indiana on Wednesday