TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State scored the first 11 points of the second half to break open a tight game and defeat Charleston Southern, 88-67, in Saturday's season opener at the Donald L. Tucker Center. CSU whittled its deficit to nine points twice near the midway mark of the second stanza but could not draw closer against the Seminoles of the ACC.
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The second of back-to-back pretty drives by Patrick Wallace brought CSU (0-1) within 65-56 with 8:20 remaining. Dwayne Bacon knocked down back-to-back threes in a span of 19 seconds, though, to help FSU (1-0) put the game away. Bacon, an NBA prospect, recorded game-highs of 23 points and nine rebounds.
Christian Keeling and Cortez Mitchell started in their CSU debuts and made an immediate impact. Keeling paced the Bucs with 16 points while Mitchell tallied six of his 14 in a strong opening stretch that saw CSU take a 17-12 lead. Jamar Martin drained four of the Bucs' seven triples to join the newcomers in double figures.
CSU will play its home opener Tuesday against Columbia International. Head coach Barclay Radebaugh was encouraged by much of what he saw against a Florida State club expected to contend for an NCAA Tournament spot.
"I thought for 30 minutes, we were right there," Radebaugh said. "We had about a four-minute stretch in the first half where it kind of got away from us but then we got it back to six at halftime. Then we had a four-minute stretch to start the second half where they got it back to double figures. I thought our team played with great energy and did some really good things."
There were three ties and seven lead changes over the opening ten-plus minutes of the contest as the teams played for a fourth straight year and fifth time in six years. Consecutive triples by Jamar Martin and Mitchell, off feeds from one another, highlighted that juncture for the Bucs and provided a 17-12 advantage.
The Seminoles responded with nine unanswered points, moving ahead for good on Bacon's three with 9:15 left. FSU would eventually push its lead out to 11 on Terrance Mann's fast break layup. CSU chipped away at its deficit, led by a Mitchell trey and two buckets from Keeling. The latter narrow the gap to four before Bacon hit two free throws to account for a 38-32 FSU halftime lead.
Four different players scored for the 'Noles to jumpstart the crucial 11-0 run to begin the second half. A steal by Bacon led to a layup from Xavier Rathan-Mayes to cap that surge. Bacon's two triples later in the half proved too much for CSU to overcome.
"That was a great challenge for us," Radebaugh said. "Florida State is very, very athletic and tall and tough to play against. Dwayne Bacon is a special player. His ability to get to a spot, elevate and make shots is incredible."
"We competed very, very well and changed defensively well," Radebaugh continued. "We held our own on the boards. I'm proud of our team and proud of our effort and we've got a chance to be pretty good. We'll get a lot off film that will help us be able to see some things where we can do a better job."
Rathan-Mayes (12 points) and Jonathan Isaac (10 points) also reached double digit scoring. FSU out-rebounded CSU, 42-30, although the Bucs did a good job to limit the 'Noles to just 11 offensive boards.
CSU hosts Columbia International on Tuesday. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.