FSU tops JU 91-67 in hoops opener
The Dolphins led 26-23 at one point in the first half
Devon Bookert no longer looked like a freshman with a bad knee Friday. The Florida State point guard started his second season with 16 points, nine rebounds and five steals during the 91-67 win against Jacksonville. He missed his career-high by two points.
"We're trying to get more easy scoring opportunities in transition while the defense isn't set up yet," Bookert said. "The coaches really tell you where the spots are that you can attack in."
Bookert attacked and gave the Seminoles the stellar play it needs from the position in 2013-14. Coach Leonard Hamilton has repeatedly stressed the need for his team to attack the rim and pick up the defense this season - neither happened in abundance during the first half.
Jacksonville (0-1) forced Florida State (1-0) into a slow start with a defensive zone and a full-court press that gave the Dolphins a 26-23 lead with 7:31 left in the first half. The Seminoles answered with a 20-10 run, including 10 points from Montay Brandon, to go into halftime leading 43-36.
The 26-23 Dolphins lead was heavily influenced by three 3-point baskets from Jarvis Haywood. Most of the half was choppy for the Seminoles, but Bookert carried the load with 13 points, five boards and four steals in the first 20 minutes.
"I'm not real sure we played particularly well tonight, but we scored 91 points," Hamilton said. "The challenge for us is for our players to create easy opportunities for each other.
"This team is a little different than the teams we've had in the past, where we've had basically stand-and-spot-up shooters. We have guys now that can take you off the dribble a little bit better."
Florida State forward Okaro White finished with game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds while Brandon added a career-high 15 points. Haywood led Jacksonville with 15 points while Vince Martin chipped in 13 points, five assists and five steals.
"I thought our team played very well for a long stretch," Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren said. "They did what we practiced - which was defend, which was hit the open man, which was reverse the ball and drive. For a long stretch, we did that.
"Then down the stretch their size and athleticism wore on us a little bit. Then they started to make open threes. ... That stretched our defense a little bit further than I wanted to."
Florida State picked up its defensive effort in the second half, and Jacksonville shot 37 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 44.8 percent in the first. The Seminoles used their size advantage to get good looks and shot 53.3 percent. A 5-for-12 effort from behind the three-point line didn't hurt, either.
A Martin 3-pointer cut the lead to 50-45 four minutes into the second half, but the Dolphins never got any closer.
Florida State also outrebounded Jacksonville 41-28.
"(Rebounding) has definitely been preached a lot," White said. "We never really had trouble rebounding the first two years I was here. Last year, they exploited us on the court a lot. That's been a heavy focus. We've just been trying to get it into our mind that we've got to go try to rebound every time.
"That's a positive look going into UCF."
The Seminoles travel to Central Florida on Wednesday while the Dolphins host Florida College on Tuesday.
Notes: Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas did not play in the first half due to a suspension that kept the two out of both exhibition games. Miller scored eight points in 18 minutes.
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