Growth and evolution — they apply to the Florida State Seminoles over the past two weeks, and they apply to Mfiondu Kabengele. Florida State, 1-4 in the ACC on January 20 after squandering a 15-point lead at Boston College, has won five straight games to dramatically change the trajectory of its season. An 80-75 overtime win over the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday solidified Florida State’s NCAA Tournament resume.
Kabengele was an instrumental part in the comeback victory against the most surprising team in the ACC.
The redshirt sophomore normally comes off the bench, which usually means he doesn’t play as many minutes as the starting five. Yet, against Louisville, Kabengele played a season-high 36 minutes, scoring 22 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting line. He also led the decisive second-half scoring run which broke open a close game at Syracuse this past Tuesday. He is stepping up to lead the Seminoles during a crucial juncture in their season.
Kabengele’s coach has noticed.
“He’s growing and improving, and I think he’s only scratched the surface of his potential,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He’s really doing a nice job. He’s getting more and more confident. He’s really growing up and maturing and making good decisions with the ball.”
[bctt tweet=”“He’s (Mfiondu Kabengele) growing and improving, and I think he’s only scratched the surface of his potential,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.” username=”CBBToday”]
On a day when seven members of Florida State’s nine-man rotation made just 12 field goals on 43 attempts (28 percent shooting), Kabengele (7 of 12) and teammate Terance Mann (4 of 6) combined to hit 11 of 18 shots. Without Kabengele, Florida State simply wouldn’t have beaten Louisville. It also wouldn’t have beaten Syracuse. Kabengele has truly been a season-saver in Tallahassee. The Seminoles appear almost certain to make the NCAA Tournament.
Kabengele will try to carry them as far as he can take them. If he continues to answer the call in crunch-time situations, his teammates will likely feed off his steadying influence. A season which had begun to spin off the rails in mid-January has been substantially restored.
Florida State can now chase its dreams instead of sweating bullets about its bubble status.
You can listen to and subscribe to the CBB Today Podcast on iTunes right here.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our college basketball and NBA Draft email newsletter below. It’s the only way to survive the impending alien invasion.