TSX Hoops: Florida State

An ugly win? That's not even the half of it. The Seminoles (14-5, 4-1) played their typical kind of game at the University of Miami's BankUnited Center. They couldn't shoot straight, dug a big deficit, mustered a comeback, missed game-sealing free throws ... then played just good enough defense in the final seconds to survive.


  Just another win at Miami.
  In a series that defies logic, the Seminoles beat the Hurricanes for the ninth time in 10 meetings, despite struggles from every player on their roster.
  But their 55-53 victory provides FSU with its best ACC start since 1993 -- their second year in the league -- and sets up a perfect opportunity to go one better on Saturday when they host Boston College.
  The Seminoles are benefitting this season from their defense and a clearly weakened ACC. They will go into Saturday's game against Boston College, a team that has struggled on defense, with a chance to maintain a logjam tie for first place in the league.
  More importantly, this team could inch closer to the inside rail in the NCAA Tournament chase. But what can't happen is another relapse into poor perimeter shooter. That problem reared up against Miami. The Seminoles looked like the team that lost at Auburn and lost at Virginia Tech. They shot just 19 percent in the first half after missing their first 10 shots in the game.
  They rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half, after trailing by seven points at halftime. They had only one player, forward Terrance Shannon, get into double figures.
  But they won again against Miami.
  BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Few players stood out on the stat sheet after FSU's survival win against Miami. One exception was freshman forward Okaro White, who made all six of his free throw attempts and grabbed three rebounds in 14 minutes. He provided the best of the bench contribution in this pedestrian performance by the Seminoles.

NOTES, QUOTES
  --With their win against Miami on Wednesday, the Seminoles have won nine of their last 11 ACC regular-season games, an amazing feat for a program that has struggled to get into a consistent offensive rhythm.
  --The Seminoles throttled Miami into just 34-percent shooting (17 of 50). FSU has had held 86 of their last 87 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting.
  --The Seminoles' 3-1 start in ACC play was their best four-game start in nine seasons under coach Leonard Hamilton. The 84 points they scored against North Carolina State was also their highest score in an ACC game in three years.
  --Florida State's win against Duke was the school's fourth against a No. 1-ranked team. It was the third such feat under Hamilton, who has now defeated Duke twice and North Carolina, all at home. It was the 19th win against a ranked team under Hamilton.
  BY THE NUMBERS: 116 -- Blocked shots for the Seminoles this season through Jan. 16. Florida State led the ACC in that category and joined Maryland as the only two ACC teams with at least 100 blocked shots and 100 steals.
  QUOTE TO NOTE: "I realize this team has this kind of potential, and as a staff, we have to create that magic mind-set that you have to be in in order to go out and consistently play with that competitive spirit every game." -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
  THIS WEEK'S GAME:
  --vs. Boston College, Jan. 22
  KEY MATCHUPS: Unlike in recent years, Boston College doesn't present the same grind-it-out defensive style that Florida State has utilized. In fact, the Eagles were 10th in the ACC in scoring defense through Jan. 16, next-to-last in field-goal percentage defense. But the Eagles are a veteran team with three of the top 20 scorers in the ACC. Senior Reggie Jackson was second in the ACC with a 19.5 average, and second in assists. This will be a difficult guard matchup for the Seminoles, who figure to keep Derwin Kitchen on him.
  FUTURES MARKET: Junior guard Deividas Dulkys has given the coaches an encouraging sign with improved shooting touch. After making just four of his previous 30 attempts from 3-point range, Dulkys was on target against N.C. State. He made two of three from long range, three of four from the field. His improved scoring is vital if the Seminoles are to continue freeing Chris Singleton and Bernard James in the scoring lane.
  "I told Deividas 'Welcome back' in the postgame meeting," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "It was nice to see him with a smile on his face. He's been knocking down his shots in practice, just not in games."

PLAYER NOTES
  --F Chris Singleton suffered through his worst game of the season, making just 2-of-13 shots against Miami on Wednesday. He had no blocked shots, no assists and finished with eight points. He missed a one-and-one in the final minute that could have helped put the game away.
  --G Derwin Kitchen scored only seven points against Miami, but that included a momentum-turning 3-pointer and a layup in the second half that finished an 11-0 run. He also had four assists, three steals and just one turnover.
  --F Terrance Shannon was in the starting lineup for the Seminoles' past two wins through Jan. 16. He scored 12 points against N.C. State. He also made a style adjustment, cutting off his dreadlocks.

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