TSX Hoops: Florida State

Just when the Seminoles popped into the Top 25, just when everyone had them penciled into the NCAA Tournament, just when there were good vibes about the team's progression, there was another regression at Clemson. The Seminoles (15-6, 5-2 ACC) laid a giant egg of a performance, making only 16 field goals in 62-44 blowout loss to the Tigers.

They trailed 22-6 at one point in the first half. It was a far different game than FSU's victory at home against Clemson (75-69) in the ACC opener for both teams back in December.
  So much for having a full week to prepare and recharge. The long break seemed to make the Seminoles more lethargic.
  "Normally we respond differently," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "But for whatever reason we just could not get our offensive execution back to where it was. We just did not have an answer."
  Fortunately for the Seminoles, they don't have to wait long to play again. They host Wake Forest, the worst team in the ACC, on Feb. 1 in a game they can't afford to have another misstep.
  The Seminoles get to play Wake Forest twice this season. These are the must-win games if FSU is to make its case for the postseason. They will certainly have to shoot better and run their offense better than they did against Clemson, when the Seminoles had 15 turnovers and scored just 15 points in the first half.
  "You expect (the home team to play well)," junior forward Bernard James said. "We just didn't do what we were supposed to do. We just kind of laid down.
  "They came out super-aggressive and we never responded to it. We had turnovers in the post, turnovers on the wing. Bad passes. Just careless in general. I don't know what it was. We just came out dead."

  --The Seminoles' bad performance at Clemson was an aberration, at least in recent years. They had won 10 ACC road games in the past three seasons. Only Duke has won more times on the road in ACC play. And consider this: The Seminoles once had a 26-game road losing streak in the ACC, one of the longest in conference history, earlier this decade.
  --G Derwin Kitchen had averaged 14 points in the past four games, including 16 points in the previous game against Boston College. But he scored only six against Clemson, falling back in the previous trend of passing up shots. He attempted only four against Clemson.
  --Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, having finished recruiting, will attend the Seminoles' basketball game Feb. 1 against Wake Forest and will accept the Chick-fil-A Bowl Championship trophy at halftime from bowl president Gary Stokan. The Seminoles believed this was the best time to have the presentation, helping boost interest in both sports at the same time.
  BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Games this season where Florida State has shot less than 40 percent from the floor, including a woeful 32.7-percent effort against Clemson. Despite FSU's defensive prowess, this is the reason the Seminoles are so sporadic with game-to-game performances.
  QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think our players have bought into our defensive system. They've been sound fundamentally with it and clearly believe if they play good defense they will give themselves a chance to win." -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton on his team's commitment to defense.

  --vs. Wake Forest, Feb. 1
  KEY MATCHUPS: The one Wake Forest player that FSU must concern itself with is freshman forward Travis McKie, who is 13th in the league in scoring and seventh in rebounding. But the biggest issue for Florida State is regaining its shooting touch. This team has played badly in back-to-back games only once this season, losing to Virginia Tech and Auburn. But both of those games were on the road. Playing in front of an expected big home crowd should boost emotions and affect shooting touch.
  --at North Carolina, Feb. 6
  KEY MATCHUPS: The Tar Heels have one of the better scoring offenses in the ACC but don't shoot 3-pointers well, which should provide a good matchup for the Seminoles. It will be a battle of front courts. FSU and North Carolina are 1-2 in the league in rebounding margin. Again, what kind of FSU team will show up? The Seminoles have really struggled shooting from the floor on the road, and that doesn't bode well going into one of the league's toughest homecourt venues.
  FUTURES MARKET: What has happened to junior forward Chris Singleton's shooting touch? The Seminoles have to wonder. He scored just eight points against Clemson. It was his third single-digit scoring performance. He had just four points in the win against Boston College, eight points in the win against Miami. This was a guy that had only three single-digit games in the previous 18 this season. But for Florida State to play consistently and continue progressing, Singleton has to come out of his slump.

  --Freshman G Ian Miller played his first game since Dec. 12, scoring six points against Clemson and becoming the only positive aspect of the Seminoles' performance against the Tigers.

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