FSU Basketball Recap: Noles Open ACC Play with Impressive Wins

FSU basketball got wins over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Virginia Cavaliers to continue their hot start to the 2016-17 season.

Wow. What a week it’s been for the Florida State men’s basketball program.

After opening conference play with a win against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, FSU faced a tough test on Saturday. And that was in the form of their first true road game. The Seminoles had to travel to John Paul Jones Arena and face the 11th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Oh, and those Cavaliers came into the game as the top team on KenPom.

In the second half alone, Dwayne Bacon scored 26 points. Twenty. Six. That’s on the road, in a hostile environment, against the second best defensive team in the country. Goes without saying really, but in an already impressive career, this was by far Bacon’s craziest performance.

Two more wins for the ‘Noles, who are now 14-1 on the year, and 2-0 in the ACC. Let’s take a look back at both games this week, hand out some awards, and present highlights.

Dec 28, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) to the basket against a Wake Forest Demon Deacon defender at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Florida State won 88-72. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 28, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) to the basket against a Wake Forest Demon Deacon defender at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Florida State won 88-72. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State Seminoles 88 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons 72

Despite the lopsided final score, FSU’s ACC opener was a tight affair throughout. The Seminoles actually trailed by by five with eight minutes remaining. But as has become customary for this team, they used a late second half run to blow the game open and put Wake Forest away.

That run got as big as 17 unanswered FSU points, and it took less than four minutes to accomplish. When this team can get out in transition and get easy, quick baskets, they’re tough to beat.

Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes combined to score 46 points, on an efficient 10-for-15 shooting. Freshman point guard CJ Walker also had a great game. The Indiana native scored 13, and dropped in three three-pointers. His shooting helped Florida State stay in the game early, when Wake Forest was seemingly hitting every open shot.

Defensively, the ‘Noles forced 16 turnovers, and held the Deacons to 43 percent shooting for the contest. In particular, they did a great job stifling opposing big man John Collins. The sophomore forward came into the game averaging an impressive 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. But against Florida State’s massive size, he just couldn’t get comfortable. Collins got into quick foul trouble, and finished the game with a mere two points and three boards.

Florida State Seminoles 60 – Virginia Cavaliers 58

This was the big one for the ‘Noles. They came into this game a nine point underdog, and with good reason. The Cavaliers are an elite team, both well-coached and experienced.

One thing they don’t have, though? Dwayne Bacon. The sophomore star was electric today, and completely took over the second half. His three-pointer with two minutes left felt like a dagger due to Virginia’s super slow pace. It put FSU up five.

However, missed free throws (because, of course), and an extremely questionable foul call after an XRM offensive rebound, gave the Cavaliers a glimmer of hope. With 22 seconds left, Jonathan Isaac missed his second consecutive shot from the line. Here’s what ensued:

Onions.

Dec 31, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Dwayne Bacon (4) dribbles the ball as Virginia Cavaliers guard Marial Shayok (4) defends in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Seminoles won 60-58. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Player of the Game(s)

Dwayne Bacon. Pretty easy choice.

Over the past week, Bacon has shot 58 percent from the floor. He has also nailed 7 total threes, while averaging 26 points a game.

Safe to say, this guy isn’t intimidated by ACC play.

Ryan Reid Unsung Hero Award

I don’t mean to cop out here, but I’m splitting the award for this week. CJ Walker gets it for his game against Wake Forest. And XRM gets it for his performance against UVA.

Neither player scored much in their match-ups. What they were able to do though, is have big first halves to keep their teams afloat, when things felt like they were teetering.

Walker had two important three-pointers in the opening period against Wake Forest. And XRM’s 10 first half points against the Cavaliers kept FSU in the game during Bacon’s slow start. The halftime deficit was seven, but could have easily been a lot more if not for the junior point guard.

Highlights

Here are your highlights against Wake:

And against Virginia:

What an amazing week for FSU basketball.

Up Next

Things won’t get any easier for Florida State. The ‘Noles get a one week break, before facing the Virginia Tech Hokies next Saturday, at 2 PM. Thankfully, it’s a home game. The Hokies will come into the game riding high though, having just walloped Duke by 14.

After that crazy Orange Bowl performance by the football team, followed by the big win at Virginia, I’m thankful for the week off. Time to regroup, ‘Nole fans, and get ready for a tough stretch of games that’s coming up. Can’t complain though, it’s truly a great time to be a Florida State Seminole.

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