At the outset, it didn’t seem likely that former Miami Columbus standout and Florida State walk-on Rafael Portuondo would see any action in front of his hometown crowd. But by the final whistle of Saturday’s game between Florida State and Tulsa, the 5-11 senior guard was on the floor helping the Seminoles close out the Golden Hurricane 82-63 in front of family and friends.
“It was fun — I did have a couple turnovers there, but it was fun to get out there on the court,” Portuondo said. “I had my whole family here. It was a good experience in front of the hometown.”
It took Florida State (8-4) the entire first half to settle down during the opening game of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BB&T Center. But midway through the second period there was little doubt as to which team was superior.
“I thought we were extremely impatient in the first part of the game,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought we took our shots too quick, and we were not able to get any offensive rhythm the first ten or 12 minutes.”
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Florida State began the game ice cold, missing its first five, including four from behind the arc. Shot selection continued to be an issue for the Seminoles throughout the first half. FSU ended the opening half shooting just 36.4 percent (12 of 33).
Early on for Tulsa (7-6), Pat Swilling Jr. kept the game tight. The junior guard was lethal from three-point range, making Florida State pay any time they gave him an inch.
“He’s been a good shooter over the years — that wasn’t a fluke,” Hamilton said. “That really challenged our perimeter defense, we had stretches in the second half where I thought we did a really good job, but every time we lost him they made us pay.”
Swilling went 5 of 7 from three-point range in the first half and contributed 17 of his 19 points to the Golden Hurricane offense during the opening 20 minutes.
Outside of Swilling, though, Florida State’s defense was overwhelming, smothering the Tulsa offense and forcing 10 turnovers in the first half. Despite shooting at an abysmal rate, the Seminoles never trailed by more than five and went into the half up three on a Devon Bookert buzzer-beater.
In the second half, the Florida State offense finally began to wake up. The Seminoles scored on five of their first six possessions and began working into their offense more efficiently than they had done in the first half.
FSU used a 7-0 run early in the second half to put some distance between themselves and the Golden Hurricane, and they never looked back.
Despite Tulsa continuing to hit from three (Tulsa was 11 of 24 from three and 11 of 32 from everywhere else), the Seminoles defense stifled the Golden Hurricane inside and with better shooting in the second half, Florida State had little trouble pulling away.
FSU also put together an 8-0 run and a 9-0 run, shooting a full 20 percent better in the second half. By the final minutes, the walk-ons were in and the game was no longer in question.
“They’re a good team; Coach Hamilton does a good job,” Tulsa coach Danny Manning said. “Looking at the stat sheet they got their points in the paint and second-chance points, they really hurt us with that in the second half.”
Terrance Shannon had a career-high 16 points and added 10 rebounds, and Michael Snaer poured in 19 and won MVP honors.
Florida State has three more road games before returning home Jan. 12 to play North Carolina.
“Overall, I see us making progress, but there’s still a long way to go,” Hamilton said. “We’re not anywhere close to being as sound in all areas as I know we’re going to need to be if we’re going to compete as well as we have in the past in the ACC. But I do see some progress with this team.”