UCF dominates boards as FSU falls for second straight time

It was one of the worst rebound efforts I have ever seen. It’s one thing to be in a tight rebound battle with Stetson, where you lose by a rebound or two. Then there’s a game like tonight’s, where you’re completely smoked up on the boards like Florida State did. We’ll talk more about that in a moment, but Florida State needs to find something to move forward: Defensively, they’re not finishing possessions with a rebound, and things are getting too stagnant offensively. Of FSU’s 54 total points, 28 were in the fastbreak.

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FSU kept things close for the most part in the first half, but a 7-0 run for the Knights in the final three minutes of the half gave them a 39-29 lead at the break. Things never really got better.

The ‘Noles hit the first shot of the second half to make it 39-31, before UCF opened the game with a 9-0 run over the next 5 minutes. FSU cut the lead to 11 with 12 minutes remaining before UCF regained the lead to 17 over the next few minutes and that would be just about enough as UCF would go on to win 68-54. It’s not what Florida State fans expected before the season started, and I’m sure no one on the team did either.

An already decimated Florida State team received no favors throughout the game. Naheem McLeod went down with an apparent ankle/Achilles injury in the first half that would rule him out for the remainder of the game (and would be out 6-8 weeks), and Matthew Cleveland would foul with over 6 minutes to play in the game, leaving FSU with 6 players available.

UCF grabbed 24 offensive rebounds, the most FSUs allowed since a January 2014 game in which Duke grabbed 26. 52 total rebounds and the -30 rebound disadvantage is the biggest I can find in the game. history of play logs from sports-reference.com, which has play logs dating back to 2010. Safe to say, this is the worst rebounding performance of the Leonard Hamilton era. Simply inexcusable.

The Knights were led by Jahylon Young, who had 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, and rookie Taylor Hendricks also had a great game, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. 5 different UCF players had multiple offensive rebounds. They also attempted 38 lay-ups, which is a lot, and somehow only made 15. Imagine what this game could have been like if they had done even half of their LAyups.

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The overall defense was there for Florida State, they just couldn’t finish defensive possessions with a rebound, allowing an offensive rebound 63.2% of the time. Can’t win matches with that kind of outlier. Still, they forced UCF to 20 turnovers, turning them into 18 points, and had 10 interceptions. It was something we didn’t see against Stetson, and at least there was something optimistic to take away from this game defensively.

Offensively…well…it wasn’t great. FSU scored just 0.844 points per possession, just after UCF allowed UNC Asheville to score 1.154 PPI. The ‘Noles were just 10/21 on layups, 22/56 overall, and had three separate 5-minute streaks where they didn’t score a basket.

Only two players have taken more than 10 shots for FSU. Darin Green Jr had 17 points against his former team on 7/14 from the floor, and Cam’Ron Fletcher had 11 points on just 5/14 shooting. They have to find a way to get more shots from Darin Green. He’s such a talented shooter, but he forces contested shots when they should come in the flow of the attack. On the other hand, where were Caleb Mills and Matthew Cleveland? I think it’s a bit telling when a few players play with two fouls at the end of the first half, and Cleveland was the only one of them not to play.

Coach Hamilton and the rest of the coaching staff are going to have to find ways to be competitive. Even if it completely changes the way you play basketball, I don’t see how FSU can continue to play the system they are used to playing and winning basketball games.

FSU is back at home on Monday against Troy, still looking for their first victory.

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