Florida A&M’s men’s basketball team returned to Tallahassee Wednesday, downing Fort Valley State University 76-63 as the Rattlers extended their home win streak to two games and non-Division 1 win streak to six.
The Rattlers won the opening tip-off, which led to a quick 3 pointer by MJ Randolph, Jr. He finished the game with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. No other Rattler was able to score in double figures.
After a 7-day trip from Tallahassee to Miami to El Paso, Texas, to Riverside, Calif., FAMU coach Robert McCullum was happy to be back in the Lawson Center. He was also happy to be back in the win column, but he said the team did not play as well as he had expected.
“There were some things we did well I thought, defensively, the fact that we forced so many turnovers. That was a bright point and certainly something to build off,” McCullum said in the post-game press conference.
The Rattlers were, at best, inconsistent. For example, with about four minutes left in the first half, they went on a 22-12 run.
“I thought we finished the first half on a nice roll. We had a four or five-minute stretch in the second half where we played at a similar level with the degree of energy and intensity, but for the most part, not being able to sustain that,” McCullum said.
The Rattlers won by 13 points but their largest lead of the night was 25, 58-33 with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Between the largest lead and the end of the game, the Rattlers were outscored by 12 points.
The Rattlers’ inability to defend three-pointers was a key factor in keeping FVSU in the game. FVSU had 26 turnovers but went 10-25 from three-point range, shooting 40 percent.
“I need to stop bragging, it’s a new season so I need to let it go, but last year we were top 10 in the nation in three-point field goal defense. I think teams made somewhere between 27 or 28 percent against us shooting threes,” McCullum said.
“That’s outstanding. We came in tonight’s game against a team shooting 37 percent, they shot 40 percent tonight.”
McCullum believes that they settled for too many jump shots Wednesday. He said he plans to address that ahead of the match-up against a good Florida Gulf Coast team next Tuesday.
“This might be our second-lowest number of free throw attempts. The number of free-throw attempts you get is an indication of how aggressive you’ve been getting the ball in the paint,” he said.
Ahead of the game against Florida Gulf Coast, Randolph believes he has to get better.
“I had four turnovers; that’s unacceptable,” he said. “That’s four possessions that we didn’t get a shot up. We had 11 in total and four of those were mine.”
“I’m going to adjust, go back to see where I messed up and see what I could do better. I know coach will look at it and let me know what I need to do as well,” Randolph added.
Rattler fans can see the team in action one last time this year before they take a 7-game road trip. Tip-off against FGCU is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday against Florida Gulf Coast.
After that, the Rattlers will not be back in the Lawson Center until Jan. 8, when they begin conference play.