TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton knew his team had Alabama A&M outmanned Thursday. What made him happy was that the 22nd-ranked Seminoles played that way.
FSU (12-2, 1-0 ACC) rode a record-setting defensive performance to an 81-34 rout of Alabama A&M, allowing the fewest points in Civic Center history. The Seminoles smothered the Bulldogs (3-5) in the second half, allowing them to score just 10 points on 4-of-22 shooting.
Hamilton said Alabama A&M’s offensive strategy could have made it tough for FSU to stick to its defensive goals. Yet the Seminoles, who lead the ACC in field goal percentage defense, stayed strong.
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“They didn’t intend to shoot the ball very much,” Hamilton said. “They wanted to control the tempo and it challenges your defensive principles when a team is playing the shot clock and moving the ball down.”
The Bulldogs kept it close with FSU in the first half thanks to some turnovers and spotty shooting from the Seminoles. When Maurice Kemp scored a layup to cut FSU’s lead to 22-16 with 7:17 to go in the first, Hamilton called a time out to regroup.
After that, he said, the Seminoles started to come around.
“We were a little tentative in the first half, defensively and offensively,” Hamilton said. “Once we called time out and readjusted, I think our guys stayed pretty focused.”
When Evan Hilton scored on a layup with 2:22 left in the first half, it was the last shot Alabama A&M would make until Casey Cantey scored with 13:55 left in the game. The Seminoles stifled the Bulldogs, forcing 22 turnovers and allowing them to shoot just 25.9 percent. FSU also dominated on the glass, outrebounding Alabama A&M 50-30.
“We wanted to impose our will with our size and athleticism,” forward Xavier Gibson said. “We didn’t want to let them be more excited than us about playing. We wanted to go faster and go harder.”
It was the fewest points the Seminoles allowed overall since beating Memphis State 35-34 on March 2, 1979.
Deividas Dulkys led FSU with 19 points, tying his career high. Dulkys, the Seminoles’ top 3-point threat, hit 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, but called the performance “just another day.”
“The team has told me and the coaches have told me that’s what I’m here for, to shoot the ball,” Dulkys said. “I’m going to take my open shots and try to make them. It doesn’t happen every time, but you’ve just got to keep thinking it’s going to go in.”
Hamilton said there remained room for improvement, even in a 47-point win. The Seminoles, making just 63.4 percent of their free throws this season, hit just 61 percent from the line Thursday. They also committed 20 turnovers, the fourth time this season they’ve lost 20 or more in a game. Forward Chris Singleton committed seven turnovers.
“Twenty turnovers is way too much,” Hamilton said. “I thought we were a little nonchalant with the ball several times.”
Gibson added a career-high 17 points and Michael Snaer added 10. Derwin Kitchen recorded a career-high 10 assists for the Seminoles. Bo Amusa led Alabama A&M with 14 points, the only Bulldog to score more than six.