After dealing with an ankle injury and a crowded depth chart in each of the last two seasons, Phil Cofer is thankful to just be back on the basketball court.
But when Cofer and his Florida State teammates pass the turkey and mashed potatoes tomorrow afternoon, the Seminoles might say a quick word of thanks for the senior’s performance against Kennesaw State, too.
Cofer matched a career high with 21 points and fell just one rebound short of a double-double as FSU raced past Kennesaw State, 98-79, in a Wednesday matinee at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
“It feels great to be back out there” Cofer said. “Just being out there with my brothers. This year, I’m trying to be a leader … I came a long way, injury-wise.”
Cofer scored the game’s first six points on the way to a 9-of-11 shooting effort, and his 28 minutes were the most since he logged 29 at NC State on Jan. 17, 2015.
And he did it from all over the floor – Cofer threw down a dunk and a handful of layups, was 2 for 2 from the free-throw line and even drained his only 3-point attempt.
“There’s really no limit to what Phil can do,” sophomore guard Trent Forrest said. “He can score, he can rebound. … It gives us a lot because he’s energetic, he causes mismatches on offense and defense and he can guard 1-through-5. It’s great having that versatility.”
Braian Angola (17 points, seven rebounds), Terance Mann (13 points), C.J. Walker (12) and M.J. Walker all joined Cofer in double-figures, and the Seminoles shot a season-best 42.3 percent from 3-point range.
That includes a 2-of-3 mark from Angola and 3-of-5 effort from M.J. Walker, the freshman who has scored at least 11 points in three of his first four games.
“I think he’s playing extremely hard,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said about Walker. “He’s playing with a reckless abandon both offensively and defensively, and I like that.”
The Seminoles needed less than five minutes to claim their first double-digit lead, and that advantage ballooned to 25 points when Angola finished off a three-point play early in the second half.
Senior guard James Scott led Kennesaw State with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Otherwise, the Owls, who finished third nationally in 3-point percentage (41.6) a year ago, did most of their damage from the perimeter.
KSU connected on 9 of 18 shots from distance, with senior Nick Masterson, the nation’s second-most accurate 3-point shooter in 2016-17, leading the way.
Masterson hit 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, and Kosta Jankovic was 3 for 3.
“I still think we’ve got a ways to go, but I love the effort, I love the attitude,” Hamilton said. “We need more games to keep rounding into shape.”
FSU won’t have wait long for its next game. The Seminoles host The Citadel on Friday at 8 p.m.
First, however, they’ll feast.
Hamilton and his wife, Claudette, will host the team for Thanksgiving dinner at their home and, as usual, an extensive spread is in store.
“I’m going to fix a couple family recipes,” Hamilton said. “I’m going to fix a couple catering trays of corn pudding. I’m going to do an unbelievable family, traditional macaroni and cheese with a lot of different things in it. … We’ve got about four or five turkeys.
“We’re going to celebrate and give thanks for all our wonderful blessings that we’ve received over the years.”
By then, perhaps Cofer will have flipped his attention from his breakout game to his favorite item on the menu.
“He definitely can cook,” Cofer said with a smile. “He’s got all types of stuff, but one of my favorite foods is mac and cheese, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
“People think it’s weird, but I put sugar in my mac and cheese. That’s what we do from the south.”