TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /December 21, 2017 (AP)(STL.NEWS) — After struggling in its past two games, including suffering its first loss of the year, No. 24 Florida State was given a team exercise leading into Thursday’s matchup against Southern Mississippi. Coach Leonard Hamilton had his players grade their previous game and come up with points of emphasis.
The self-scouting ended up benefiting the Seminoles, who closed nonconference play with a 98-45 victory Thursday over the Golden Eagles.
“Today is one of those days we took a step in the right direction,” Hamilton said. “This is the closest we’ve come to everyone being on the same page.”
Florida State (11-1) made 19 3-pointers, just short of the school-record 20 it made against Maine on Dec. 8, 2007. PJ Savoy, who scored a game-high 17 points, and M.J. Walker, who added 15, each made five 3s.
The Seminoles were 9 of 15 from beyond the arc in the first half and made 52.8 percent overall.
Braian Angola, who scored nine points, said the self-scouting was good for the team because it made players see the little things they weren’t executing on.
“You could see us moving the ball way more,” he said. “We found open shots and it was great for us.”
Savoy also liked his teammates’ attention to detail, noting that the game right before Christmas, when everyone goes home for a couple of days, tends to be the one in which players are the most distracted.
“Some guys’ heads aren’t in it because they are anxious to get home, but we made sure to address it and not make sure it happens,” he said.
Florida State, which was 37 of 66 from the field, led by 26 at halftime (47-21) and was up by as many as 57 late in the second half. Mfiondu Kabengele added 12 points for the Seminoles, who had 13 players in the scoring column.
Southern Mississippi (7-5) did not have any players in double figures as it saw its four-game winning streak snapped. It shot a season-worst 29.5 percent from the field (18 of 61) and committed a season-high 19 turnovers. Cortez Edward, Eddie Davis III and Anfernee Hampton each scored eight points.
“Are you going to give up the paint or perimeter? We were giving up both,” coach Doc Sadler said. “They are a great shooting team. We don’t want people scoring in the paint which they did.”
Southern Miss: This is the second straight year the Golden Eagles came to the Tucker Center and lost by 49 points or more. “It seemed like over a year ago I was in the same spot,” Sadler said. “I promise I won’t be again after this. They are just too tough for us.”
Florida State: The Seminoles have won 27 straight at home, which is the third-longest current streak in Division I behind Cincinnati (32) and SMU (31). That streak though faces a huge test the next time they are at the Tucker Center, when defending national champion and No. 5 North Carolina visits on Jan. 3.
Florida State was able to stay in the rankings this week despite its first loss, which came last Saturday against Oklahoma State. The Seminoles should move up a couple of spots in next week’s poll and before a stretch in which it faces three straight top-10 teams to start Atlantic Coast Conference play.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Sophomore guard Trent Forrest, who was limited early in the season because of a foot injury, had 12 assists, which is the most by an ACC player this season. Duke’s Trevon Duval had 11 against Saint Francis on Dec. 5.
Southern Miss: Faces Mississippi State on Friday in Jackson, Mississippi.
Florida State: Travels to fourth-ranked Duke on Dec. 30 to start league play.