FSU Men Overwhelm Iona, 99-78

Tim Linafelt | November 15, 2016


By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was just like old times in the Donald L. Tucker Center on Tuesday night: Sam Cassell scoring from everywhere on the floor and the Florida State Seminoles walking out with a victory.

Except, this time, the Cassell in question was Sam Jr., son of FSU Hall-of-Famer Sam Cassell.

And his uniform at Iona College is more maroon and mustard than Garnet and Gold.

Otherwise, Cassell turned in a performance that would have made his dad proud: a game-high 28 points and three assists in 36 minutes of work.

“It felt like I was back at home,” said Cassell, who also played at nearby Chipola Junior College. “It’s my father’s team. I wanted to beat them so I could talk trash to him.”

The Seminoles, however, had something to say about that.

Matched up against an Iona team that ended last season in the NCAA tournament, FSU dominated from start to finish and rolled to a 99-78 victory in its second game of the regular season.

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For the first time of his young career, heralded freshman Jonathan Isaac led the Seminoles (2-0) in scoring. The former prep All-American had 20 points on 6 of 8 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in just 23 minutes on the floor.

Isaac was one of six Seminoles to score in double figures, the first time that’s happened since Nov. 15, 2014.

Joining Isaac were Phil Cofer (13 points), Terance Mann (12), Jarquez Smith (12), Dwayne Bacon (10 points) and Trent Forrest (10).

Xavier Rathan-Mayes narrowly missed out on becoming the seventh, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and two assists.

“They made it to March Madness last year, and we kind of took that personally,” Smith said. “We didn’t make it. They made it. We (felt) we should have been there. So we said, ‘OK, it’s time to redeem ourselves.’”

It showed.

The Seminoles ran up their highest point total since scoring 109 in last year’s season-opener, and they could have topped that century mark had Rathan-Mayes not run out the clock at the end of the game.

And they did it despite shooting just 4 of 17 from 3-point range and 27-40 from the line.

As a result, they made an exceptional 30 of 42 (71.4 percent) shots from inside the arc. Iona, meanwhile, struggled to generate any offense outside of Cassell. The Gaels (0-1) shot just 37 percent from the field and made 9 of 31 3-point attempts.

“The quality of our depth allowed us to sustain our effort,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We were able to keep people fresh and we were able to make the adjustments that were necessary to play against their style.”

The Seminoles dictated terms for most of the second half.

After taking a 47-32 lead into the break, FSU used a 24-10 run to turn what had been a comfortable advantage into a full-fledged rout.

The Seminoles led 74-48 with 11:44 to go and never looked back.

“I’m pleased that we were focused. We were prepared,” Hamilton said. “I thought that our guys were locked in the last couple of days, in tune with the scouting report. And we went out and followed the strategy that we thought was best for us to win the game. So I see a level of maturity developing with this team.”

Next for the Seminoles is a date with Winthrop on Friday (7 p.m., ACC Network Extra) in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off. They’ll then wrap up their four-game home stand Sunday against Detroit (5 p.m., ACCNE) before heading to New York to finish the tournament against Temple and either West Virginia or Illinois.

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