Auburn, now 10-0, is ranked No. 25 nationally in the AP poll, which is selected by sportswriters. FSU, now 8-2, is ranked 25th in the CNN/USA Today poll done by the coaches. Obviously, the sportswriters had a better handle on these two teams as the Tigers outplayed the Seminoles in almost every phase of the game.
Auburn jumped to a 33-21 halftime lead and stretched the margin to 18 points six minutes into the second period. Ciampi was able to clear his bench and rest four starters who scored in double figures led by Tia Miller, who was a force with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-2 center was also a force inside on defense, something that pleased the head coach.
"Defensively, we did so many things well," Ciampi says. "Anytime you hold a team averaging 82 points per game to 21 in the first half you are playing well. Holding their leading scorer (Val Whiting) scoreless from the field, that was big to us. We were really worried about their perimeter game, but overall we played great defensively.
"They are learning how to play as a team," Ciampi adds. "They are taking away inside lanes and taking away passing lanes, making offenses work for their baskets. If you can do that in the fullcourt and halfcourt you have a chance to be a pretty good team."
Ciampi says he was happy to see four starters in double figures in the scoring column with the fifth, point guard Carol Smith, close with eight points.
Guard Keisha Johnson scored 12, forward Le'Coe Willingham scored 11 and added nine rebounds while Nancy Derrick contributed 10 points at guard.
Auburn dominated the boards with a 44-27 advantage and forced 21 FSU turnovers, six less than the Tigers. Auburn's fullcourt press was effective as seven different players contributed to AU's total of 12 steals.
AU's dominance was so strong on the boards that even a mediocre shooting game (39.7 percent) was easily overcome although FSU hit 46.8 percent of its shots.
Florida native Miller said, "We were psyched about this game. We felt like we were the better team. We had some good outside shooting. My job was taking it to the basket."
Miller and the Tigers return to action with a Thursday 5 p.m. home game vs. Troy State as part of a doubleheader with the men's team, which will play UNC-Asheville.
"We have grown as a team and that showed today," Miller said. "We are going to have a chance to go far."