TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For a large part of Friday night’s contest, the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team played exactly according to plan. Swarming the Florida State Seminoles with an aggressive press and jumping passing lanes, the Dolphins were turning over their ACC opposition at will and scoring easy buckets on the offensive end. Eventually, FSU was able to turn the tables on JU, forcing the Dolphins into 25 turnovers in the game and coming away with a 91-67 win at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The game was up-tempo from the very opening tip. While Jacksonville was harassing the Seminoles when FSU was on offense, the Dolphins struggled in the opening minutes, falling behind 7-0 out of the gate. Five points from Jarvis Haywood in the span of 30 seconds settled JU into the game, who then took its first lead of the night at 11-9 after Tyler Alderman converted in the lane.
Florida State responded to take a 23-18 lead midway through the opening 20 minutes, but Jacksonville reeled off an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the night, 26-23. Haywood started the run with his third trey; Keith McDougald added three points and Alderman capped the run once again when he splashed a jumper.
The Seminoles fired back with a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to re-establish a comfortable lead. FSU went up by double-digits for the first time, 43-33, with just over a minute remaining in the half, but Vince Martin converted a lay-up with the foul, cutting the deficit to seven at the break.
A fast start to the second half once again had Florida State up by 10 and forced a timeout from the Jacksonville bench with 17:48 remaining. McDougald came out of the timeout with a lay-up, and then a turnover led to a Martin lay-in. Moments later, Martin connected on a triple to slice the deficit back to five, 50-45.
That would prove to be as close as the Dolphins would get. Okaro White scored the next four points for FSU and after a Sam Hunt three-point play cut the lead back to single digits at 59-50, Jacksonville wouldn’t hit a field goal for over five minutes. Though Javon Dawson scored five points in a row to briefly make it a nine-point game once again at 68-59, the Seminoles cruised to the finish, helped by three late three-pointers.
“I thought that for a long time tonight, we did what we had been doing in practice,” said Head Coach Cliff Warren. “We defended, we hit the open man, and we made good ball reversals. At halftime Florida State had 12 turnovers and I think those were forced turnovers. I think we did some good things, but just got worn down by their size and athleticism in the second half.”
Haywood led Jacksonville with 15 points, knocking down three three-pointers in the first half. Martin had 13 points, five assists, five steals and five rebounds in his Dolphin debut. McDougald was the third JU player in double-figures, adding 11 on the night.
White led Florida State with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but he was also credited with seven turnovers against JU’s pressure defense. Point guard Devon Bookert had a solid night with 16 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Montay Brandon chipped in with 15.
Jacksonville makes its 2013-14 home debut on Tuesday night at Swisher Gym, taking on the Florida College Falcons. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
- Haywood’s three 3-pointers were a career high. He made just 10 from downtown as a freshman and never more than one in a single game.
- Martin was the first Jacksonville player to record five steals in a game since Delwan Graham accomplished the feat on Feb. 6, 2012 against Stetson.
- Florida State turned the ball over 20 times on Friday night, making it the second year in a row that Jacksonville has forced at least that number in its season opener. Georgia committed 23 turnovers on Nov. 9, 2012.
- Jacksonville debuted five new faces in tonight’s game. In addition to Martin’s stellar performance, RJ Slawson got the start and contributed a point, three rebounds and two blocks. Hunt scored five points and grabbed a board. J.R. Holder scored three points and Marcel White had two rebounds and an assist.
- Florida State now leads the all-time series, 47-19, and has won 18 straight dating back to 1987-88.