TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) After getting off to a slow start in Atlantic Coast Conference play last season, Florida State is off to its best start in school history.
The 12th-ranked Seminoles defeated No. 21 Virginia Tech 93-78 on Saturday for their 11th straight win. It also marks the first time since joining the ACC in 1991 that they have won their first three conference games.
Despite a 15-1 record, which matches the 1988-89 team for best start in school history through 16 games, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said he is trying to keep things in perspective, especially with his team two games into a six-game stretch of facing ranked teams and having started 0-3 in conference last season.
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”In order for these games to mean something, we have to keep winning,” he said. ”There are a lot of positive things going on but no stretch do we feel like we are starting to get satisfied or feeling way too good.”
Even though starters Terance Mann (22 points) and Dwayne Bacon (17 points) led the Seminoles in scoring, it was the bench that came up big. They outscored the Hokies’ reserves 35-6 with six players seeing 7 minutes or more of action. Jarquez Smith led the way 12 points and PJ Savoy added 11, including three 3-pointers.
”They bring everything – energy, scoring and defense. They are like a second starting unit,” Mann said. ”It wears them down and we used that to our advantage.”
The Seminoles also wore the Hokies down with 33 points off their transition game. Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams called three timeouts during the first half to try and give his team, which doesn’t have much depth to begin with, a chance to stay in the game but to no avail.
Chris Clarke led the Hokies (12-3, 1-2) with 22 points while Zach LeDay and Ahmed Hill added 19 apiece.
After beating then-No. 5 Duke by 14 points on Dec. 31, Virginia Tech lost by 26 last Wednesday at NC State and by 15 on Saturday.
”We have to figure out defensively how to do better and our turnover rate has to significantly drop. The things that we’re doing bad, we’re doing real bad,” Williams said.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies have had seven games where they have made 10 or more 3-pointers but were held to a season-low four against FSU. Hill, who is averaging 18.7 points over the past seven games, had three.
Florida State: Jonathan Isaac has struggled since coming back from a hip flexor injury, averaging only 8.2 points. He had 13 points and eight rebounds against the Hokies as he showed more of his early season form. The freshman forward was averaging 15.1 points before the injury.
Virginia Tech scored the first six points and led for the first 10 minutes before the Seminoles went on an 11-2 run. Bacon had two layups and Mann capped the run with a 3-pointer to give them a 27-22 lead with 8:06 remaining.
The Seminoles led 48-37 at halftime and would be up by as many as 19 (74-55) with 8:12 remaining.
The Seminoles could move into the top 10 for the first time since Feb. 22, 1993, after losses earlier in the week by No. 7 West Virginia, No. 9 Louisville and No. 11 Virginia. The Hokies, who entered the rankings for the first time in six years this week, are likely to find themselves out of the poll with two double-digit defeats.
Virginia Tech guard Seth Allen missed the game due to concussion symptoms. Allen, who is averaging 10.7 points, was injured during the NC State game. Williams says he is day-to-day.
HE SAID IT
”It’s definitely fun but with fun comes a lot of tests. We just have to put this win behind us because it’s a win that we definitely needed. Get ready, starting tomorrow and prepare for Tuesday’s game (against Duke),” Bacon on the Seminoles’ fast start.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies, who have won five straight conference games at home, begin a three-game home stand on Tuesday against Syracuse.
Florida State: The Seminoles host No. 8 Duke on Tuesday. FSU has dropped its last four against the Blue Devils.
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