TSX Hoops: Florida State
The Seminoles will have to play the Tar Heels again, in their home finale, so winning on the road against some lesser teams now figures to be more important.
For only the second time in the past 91 games, the Seminoles failed to hold their opponent under 50 percent shooting. North Carolina scorched FSU's defense, making 34 of 61 shots (55-percent) and FSU had no answer. The only positive side was that FSU did not shoot badly (46.7-percent), except for making just 4 of 21 3-point shots.
Prior to the game, FSU guard Michael Snaer had talked about the importance of playing well on the road, something FSU has rarely done this season.
"When we are at home we have that crowd pumping that energy into us. On the road we haven't figured out how to channel that yet," Snaer said. "We sat down and talked about it. It's the same way for other teams on their home courts.
"The players get so emotionally involved that they do things they haven't done all season. We got do the same thing. We got to have that emotion inside us. We got to pump that life into each other from our teammates."
North Carolina will challenge Duke for the top spot in the ACC standings, so losing at the Dean Smith Center is not a catastrophic occurrence. But the Seminoles will need to rely on their resiliency and play well enough to get a road win against Georgia Tech.
--Florida State is one of only two teams in the ACC this season that has played at least four ranked teams and is one of only two teams in the league that has defeated two ranked teams. Facing North Carolina was the fifth ranked opponent. The Seminoles split against the previous four ranked teams (No. 14 Florida, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 15 Baylor and No. 1 Duke). They defeated Baylor and then-No. 1 Duke.
--The Seminoles entered the North Carolina game on Feb. 6 with a continued hold on being the nation's top defensive team. The Seminoles are one of only two teams in the nation to rank in the top 25 in field goal percentage defense (1st), blocked shots per game (8th), 3-point field goal percentage defense (11th), scoring defense (23rd) and steals pergame (31st).
--Junior forward Chris Singleton had one of his best games in more than a month, hitting 6 of 10 shots from the floor and scoring 15 points against the Tar Heels before fouling out. It broke a string of four consecutive single digit games, including a 2-for-11 performance (5 points) in his previous game against Wake Forest.
BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Number of ACC wins for Florida State in the last three years, the second most wins in the ACC during this stretch. Yes, even ahead of North Carolina. The Seminoles have 26 conference wins during the regular season since 2008, plus two ACC tournament wins. Because they remain an under-the-radar program, however, it makes for a good trivia question.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The past two years, we've been a very good road team. Above average. And this year, we've kind of slipped back into mediocrity on the road. ... I just think we weren't mentally focused for a couple of those games on the road. And you could tell." -- Florida State G Luke Loucks on the Seminoles' struggles on the road.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Georgia Tech, Feb. 10
KEY MATCHUPS: The Seminoles will confront a desperate, reeling team in Atlanta on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets have dropped three straight and are now playing to try and have a winning season. The biggest concern for FSU is trying to defend Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert, the seventh-leading scorer in the league and a player who ranks in the top 10 in four categories, including the league leader in steals. The strength of the Yellow Jackets is their backcourt. They lead the ACC as a team in steals and are second best in positive turnover margin. But this is a game the Seminoles have to win to keep pace for an upper-tier finish in the league and possible first-round bye in the ACC tournament.
vs. Virginia, Feb. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: The Seminoles' only meeting this season against the Cavs will be a matchup of struggling offenses. Virginia is last in the ACC in scoring and does not have an individual player in the Top 20 of the league scorers. Virginia is a tenacious defensive rebounding team. Playing at home, however, the Seminoles should only have to avoid their own slip into a lethargic effort.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman forward Okaro White made his first career start against Wake Forest in place of injured Terrance Shannon and delivered a solid performance. He backed it up with 10 points and three rebounds in a Feb. 6 loss at North Carolina. The Seminoles love the upside with White, a Florida prep star (Clearwater), who prides himself on respecting the game, listening to coaches and keeping his lips zipped when bad calls go against him. The 6-8 forward has made a steady progression this season and is part of the reason the Seminoles feel so good about their future.
--Junior F Bernard James entered the North Carolina game shooting 73.3 percent (33 of 45) from the floor in ACC games
--Junior C Xavier Gibson (hand) has practiced the past week and FSU is hoping to have him back soon. He has not played since suffering a broken hand and torn MCL on Dec. 23 in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
--Freshman G Ian Miller, who played last week for the first time in two months due to a groin injury, scored 11 points against Wake Forest. Miller missed 12 consecutive games.
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