A Different Feeling

The Florida State Seminoles have a right to feel good. They move to 3-0 for the first time in five seasons after dominating the Iowa Hawkeyes 80-67 Monday night before an appreciative crowd of 6,060 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Michael Joiner talks about FSU's early play and upcoming games against Florida and Miami. "I feel like guys are real intense. We have that poise, and it really shows out there," Joiner said.

Leonard Hamilton planned to give his Florida State basketball team the day off Tuesday.

Michael Joiner lobbied otherwise.

"I just told coach, can we have practice tomorrow," Joiner said following the Seminoles' 80-67 victory over Iowa Monday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. "I am always ready to practice. It's just so fun, just to see outcomes like this occur."

The Seminoles have a right to feel good about themselves. They move to 3-0 for the first time in five seasons after dominating the Hawkeyes (3-1) before an appreciative crowd of 6,060 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

Joiner scored 19 points and freshman Todd Galloway added 14 as the duo combined to finish 14 of 16 from the field, including 5 of 6 from three-point territory. Tim Pickett added 11 points and Nate Johnson 10 for the Seminoles, who led by as many as 17 points (73-56) in the second half. After Iowa pulled within 73-64 with 1:21 remaining, FSU canned seven of its final eight free throws to seal its first win in the Challenge since 1999.

"This win goes No. 1 for me, just because in my two years being here, I have never experienced a Big 10-ACC Challenge win, so this is a big win for me," said Joiner, who helped the Seminoles shoot 50 percent (31 of 62) from the field.

After opening with two wins against lower-level opponents, Iowa offered a better gauge for Hamilton's team. An even larger test looms Friday, when No. 7 Florida visits the Civic Center. That showdown is followed by another home game Sunday against Miami, which which promises an emotional backdrop for Hamilton against his former team.

"I believe this win gives this team a whole lot of confidence (for UF)," Joiner said. "We definitely feel positive, we feel confident. We just know that we keep believing what the coaching staff teaches us every day in practice and we just go out there and show that on the court. Just give it our all. This Florida game is going to be a big game for us and we are looking forward to it."

Led by Galloway, FSU outscored Iowa's reserves 28-10. The Seminoles also forced 24 Iowa turnovers, resulting in 28 points. FSU took a 39-31 halftime lead when Galloway hit a pair of 3-point jumpers from the corner in the final 52 seconds of the half. Iowa pulled within 39-33 to open the second half, but that's as close as the visitors would get.

The Seminoles hed a double-digit advantage for the final 14:01. The lone negative was on the boards, hwere FSU was outrebounded 36-35.

"I just took the open shots and they fell for me," Galloway said. "My teammates got me the ball when I was open, and I was able to knock it down. We stuck to our coaches' principles, what they teach us in practice every day. I think it's effective.'

Iowa, which was nationally ranked a year ago under coach Steve Alford, has suffered an attrition that has left the Hawkeyes with only seven scholarship players. FSU has showed defensive improvement under Hamilton, who continues to enforce his team's commitment to an all-out effort on every possession.

"Nobody really expected to us to come in here and win this game," Joiner said.

"We were probably the only ones that really believed we could win this. The guys on the team really believe and really have that faith now. We passed one test and we have two more tests to pass this week. We just lay it on the line. Coach has a saying that goes on the back of our shirts – run with a passin, defend with a purpose. We just try to go out there and execute the principles. Do everything to keep that effort. We know even if we mess up, just have that second and third effort and we will know we will get there."

FSU survived despite a woeful shooting display by and Andrew Wilson. Considered the team's top two shooters, the duo went a combined 6 of 26 from the field, including 2 of 17 from three-point territory. On the flip side, point guard Nate Johnson contributed a game-high 10 assists.

"We just work good as a pair," Galloway said of Johnson. "I give him a breather, he gives me a breather. He helps me a lot. I think we work great as a pair." Added Joiner: "This team right now, we know there's not going to be the high scorer every night. It's going to be different individuals who step up for this team. We have players who can really step up."

The Florida game on Friday night (7 p.m.) and the Miami game (2 p.m.) will be carried statewide on The Sunshine Network. This is the first time since 1997 the Florida-Florida State basketball game has been played away from the football weekend.

"It's a Florida thing – it's a big rivalry down here," Joiner said. "We are going to prepare hard for it. It could be a big moment, a very big moment."

Joiner also notices a huge difference from a year ago, when struggles buried the Seminoles' psyche.

"Guys are really putting a lot more effort into it," Joiner said. "Coach really prepares us for adversity, so when we meet it, instead of just hitting the wall, we want to go through it instead of stopping at the wall. I feel like guys are real intense. We have that poise, and it really shows out there. And we have that chemistry. Chemistry really develops every game. I can see a difference. We have a lot of improvement (to make), but it's definitely a lot of improvement."

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