'Noles Proving to be Legit ACC Contender

Florida State was humiliated by the losses to Auburn and Virginia Tech. The Seminoles certainly used the defeats as motivation the past two weeks. FSU won its fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference game, dominating Boston College 67-51 Saturday night to maintain first place in the conference with No. 4 Duke.

The Seminoles (15-5, 5-1) have tied the best ACC start in school history. The 1992-93 Seminoles, led by Charlie Ward, Sam Cassell, Rodney Dobard and Doug Edwards, won 25 games before losing to Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

"I don't know if we're in the driver's seat because it's still early," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We have to keep stacking those victories. I don't want players playing the what-if game.

"We're kind of moving into uncharted waters for our basketball program. In order for this to be meaningful, we have to continue to stay focused. We have to continue to keep getting better."

FSU clearly has improved in the past two weeks. The defense was always there – the Seminoles lead the nation by allowing opponents to make just 35 percent of their shots – but now FSU is receiving a balanced offensive attack.

Four FSU players scored in double figures on Saturday, led by guards Derwin Kitchen (16 points) and Michael Snaer (13 points). Center Bernard James added 12 points as he went 3 of 3 from the floor on Saturday and has made 19 of his last 22 shots from the floor dating back to the upset of then-No. 1 Duke.

Freshman forward Okaro White came off the bench to score 11 points.

And FSU did it despite Chris Singleton's worst night of the season. The junior star shot just 2 of 9 from the floor and had four points.

The Seminoles shot 61.9 percent in the second half to pull away. While the Eagles stayed close for much of the game, the Seminoles used a 12-2 run midway through the second half to grab a 55-40 lead with 5:43 left in the game.

FSU held BC to a season-low 51 points. The Eagles shot just 35.4 percent from the floor.

Joe Trapani scored 19 points for BC. Trapani had 14 first-half points to keep BC in the game.

The other Eagles made just 4 of 16 of their first-half shots from the floor. Reggie Jackson, the ACC's second-leading scorer, was 0 for 5 from the floor in the first half but finished with 13 points.

"We think we're a pretty good defensive team, but we recognized if we were not on it with the skill that they had on the floor that they could make you look bad," Hamilton said.

FSU has been making most of the ACC look back for a while now. The Seminoles are 53-43 in ACC play the past six seasons – only Duke (71) and North Carolina (63) have more conference wins during that span.

And now FSU can point to the conference standings and argue that, with six weeks to go, the Seminoles are in position to win their first ACC title.

"It means a lot but at the same time you can't get complacent," Kitchen said. "It's still early in the year, and we still have 10 games left. Even though we're tied for first, you can't get satisfied. You have to stay humble and keep working. Hopefully we can carry that out the rest of the year."

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