If you are a fan of offensive basketball with a lot of action from end to end, the first half of tonight’s Florida State/Butler game was NOT for you.
The Seminoles made just five baskets in the first half shooting just 28%.
Butler was not much better, connecting on just 29% of their shots. And yet somehow the ‘Noles trailed by just two points at intermission, 21-19.
That’s when the offensive fireworks took place in a shootout contest between FSU’s Chris Singleton and Butler’s Shelvin Mack. Singleton had just two points going into the locker room and came out to score 26 more on the strength of a career high six three pointers.
It was not enough however as the Seminoles came up just short to the Bulldogs, 67-64.
Mack, held scoreless in the first half, scored 17 in the second period with 7 coming in the first 3:50. The flurry by Mack helped fuel a 20-6 Bulldog run.
After two more threes by Butler, FSU found itself down 49-34 with 9:21 to play. To FSU’s credit or maybe more so to Singleton, the ‘Noles fought back, chipping away at the deficit.
But there was simply not enough time and after a rare steal by FSU, Matt Howard stuffed a shot by Okaro White in the last seconds of the game and sealed the win with two free throws.
Singleton made it look a little better nailing a three from above the key with only .8 seconds left.
Singleton was the only Seminole in double figures with the next highest total being seven points by two players.
Leonard Hamilton said afterward “we just didn’t give Chris enough support; we didn’t make enough plays.”
“It was discouraging that we got all those good looks in the first half and got nothing out of them,” Hamilton said. “The interior is not getting enough points and we have to get more out of going inside.”
“We have to find a way to get those shots to go down,” he added.
Butler however put three players in double figures led by Howard’s 19 points.
FSU did improve its shooting in the second half finishing with 40% from the field. Unfortunately so did Butler ending with 38% from the floor.
Hamilton addressed the defense by saying “we went under some screens in the second half.”
Of note was a knee injury Xavier Gibson who was rolled up on. The play didn’t look serious at the time but Gibson had to be helped to the locker room. Asked about his status, Hamilton said there was no word at this time and that a MRI will determine the extent of the injury and his availability for Saturday’s game.
Had FSU won, they would have faced Washington State for the championship of the Diamond Head Classic. Instead they get the consolation of playing 15th ranked Baylor, the highest ranked team in the field, who lost to the Cougars 77-71. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 EST and will be televised Christmas Day on ESPN2.