Mindful of his own team's erratic history, Leonard Hamilton called Florida State's game Wednesday night at Wake Forest as potentially "the most important game of the year for us."
Heeding their coach's message, the Seminoles (14-6, 5-1) turned a two-point game early in the second half into a rout, surging past the Deacons 75-52 in a road win that now leaves them atop the ACC standings. And the Seminoles will have some time to enjoy it. They will not play again until hosting Georgia Tech on Feb. 1, as their schedule gets more favorable in the next couple weeks. Four of FSU's next five games are at home. Only one of the next five games, at home against Virginia, will pit FSU against a ranked ACC team.
That's why Wednesday night was so important. The Seminoles started slow, failing to grab a lead until midway through the first half and led by only six points at halftime. That lead was cut to two points less than three minutes into the second half, when Bernard James started an 18-2 run with a shot inside the paint on the next possession. From that point, FSU began to show the maturity and progression Hamilton was seeking.
"I thought our depth wore them down," Hamilton said. "The quality of our depth kind of stepped up."
Fresh off his game-winning performance against Duke, guard Michael Snaer was hot again Wednesday night, scoring 18 points.
"We're improving and we're heading in the right direction," Hamilton said, "but we're still not a well-oiled machine yet."
Maybe not, but it's an amazing turnaround in the past three weeks after this team started ACC play with a 20-point loss to Clemson. The Seminoles have since reeled off five consecutive ACC victories, their best streak in two seasons.
They have a week to take a deep breath, soak in the achievement and begin preparing this weekend for the next stretch of games, beginning with Georgia Tech.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Snaer was named ACC Player of the Week after his 14-point effort, headlined by the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Duke on Jan. 21. He followed Wednesday night with 18 points, including a perfect 4 for 4 from 3-point range. In the last three games, Snaer has become the consistent perimeter scorer this team has lacked the first half of the season. ...
Senior C Jon Kreft came off the bench to have one of his best games of the season, scoring 6 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 12 minutes of play. He had only one foul for the game. If the Seminoles could get that kind of production from the 7-1 center, it will greatly aid James and Xavier Gibson in the front court. ...
The Seminoles have now defeated Wake Forest for a fourth consecutive time. It's something that has not happened since the 1993-94 season.
Florida State set up for a longer streak
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