Bernard James, who has been nursing an injured ankle, looked plenty healthy on Monday night. The senior power forward finished with a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds, leading the host Seminoles to a 73-50 win over Central Florida.
James shot 8-of-9 from the field and blocked three shots. The only drawback to the biggest night of his career was his poor free throw shooting. James was just 2-of-8 from the line.
Fellow big men Xavier Gibson and Terrance Shannon combined to add 22 points and 13 rebounds for the 24th ranked Seminoles.
It was an up-and-down night for the Florida State offense. The Seminoles posted an effective field goal percentage of 53.6% despite a brutal performance from beyond the arc (3-of-14) because of their success on two-point shots (61%), but the rest of the numbers don’t look good. Their performance from the free throw line wasn’t much better – the Seminoles hit just 14 of their 25 attempts.
The Seminoles also turned the ball over 19 times, which certainly isn’t an anomaly. Turnover issues have plagued Leonard Hamilton’s squad throughout his tenure.
Like turnovers and inefficient offense, great defense has been a staple of Hamilton’s Florida State teams and that defense was on display again Monday. The Knights posted an effective field goal percentage of 35.6% and despite missing 24 three-point shots, still managed to put up 30 attempts from beyond the arc. Making matters worse for the Knights was their abysmal free throw shooting (8-of-20).
Marcus Jordan, UCF’s leading scorer last season, returned to the court after being suspended for the opener against Saint Thomas University Saturday and was harassed all night. The Seminole wings did a good job of keeping Jordan out of the paint and held the junior guard to just 11 points on an extremely inefficient 5-of-16 shooting. With Jordan unable to consistently get into the paint, he attempted 10 three-pointers, hitting just one.
Both Jordan and Keith Clanton (10 points on 3-of-7 shooting) turned the ball over five times.
Only Dwight McCombs shot over 43% from the field for the Knights and he attempted just one shot.
Florida State came in with a distinct size advantage and it showed throughout the game as the Seminoles outrebounded the Knights 46-31. They also held the Knights to just 16 points in the paint.
There is a chance these two squads could meet again next week. Both Florida State and Central Florida will participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis, an eight-team tournament in the Bahamas that will run from November 23-27. The Seminoles will open the tournament against Massachusetts and the Knights will take on College of Charleston. Both of those games will take place November 24.
The impressive field also includes defending national champion Connecticut, Harvard, Utah and North Carolina-Ashville.
The Seminoles will host Stetson Wednesday night while the Knights will welcome High Point Friday.