LOUISVILLE, KY – M.J. Walker could have spent this weekend preparing for college football’s national championship game. Instead, he helped Florida State’s basketball team make a statement Saturday on the road.
Walker, a five-star hoops recruit who turned down football scholarships from Michigan, Miami and Clemson, scored 23 points and made 5 of 7 3-pointers for the 18th-ranked Seminoles, who beat No. 7 Louisville 78-65. It was his first action since suffering a bone bruise in a win over North Alabama last Saturday.
“He hadn’t practiced probably in about 10 days,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He didn’t even practice yesterday, but he walked through everything.”
The Seminoles (13-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were 6 1/2-point underdogs, endured a big game from Louisville's Jordan Nwora to pull the upset. The preseason All-American scored 32 points, matching a career high.
But the Cardinals (11-3, 2-1) could not overcome a 55.2% shooting performance by the Seminoles in losing their second straight. Florida State made a season-best 11 of 23 3-pointers in extending its winning streak to six.
“I give all the credit to Florida State,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “I thought for, really, the entire game they were the tougher team. I thought our guards got manhandled. They shot over the top of our guards, especially in the second half.”
Walker finished one point short of his career high. Trent Forrest added 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and Devin Vassell scored 14. Those three guards are all 6-foot-4 or taller. Three of four Louisville guards who played 14 or more minutes were 6-2 or shorter.
Nwora had a hot hand early for Louisville, scoring 21 points in the first half. The junior shot 6 of 9 from the floor, but the Cardinals combined to make just 10 of 37. They went the last 5:04 without a field goal as the Seminoles took 39-32 lead into the break.