Virginia Tech-Florida St. Preview
While it came in just its second ACC game - and was followed with some more buzzworthy victories - Florida State thinks its win over Virginia Tech last month was one of the most critical of the season.
Looking to keep pace atop the conference standings, the 20th-ranked Seminoles host the Hokies on Thursday night.
Florida State opened its ACC slate with a 79-59 loss at Clemson on Jan. 7 - its third in four games - then nearly blew a double-digit lead before holding on to defeat Virginia Tech 63-59 on Jan. 10.
The Seminoles (17-7, 8-2) won their next six after that, including victories over then-No. 3 North Carolina and then-No. 4 Duke, before losing 64-60 at Boston College last Wednesday. They rebounded with a 64-59 win over Miami on Saturday to keep pace with the Tar Heels and Blue Devils for the ACC regular-season title.
"We had to win that (Virginia Tech) game," senior guard Deividas Dulkys told the Seminoles' official website. "It was either going up or going down and not coming back."
After allowing the Eagles to go 10 of 22 from 3-point range, Florida State held Miami to 5 of 22 from long distance and 39.3 percent shooting overall. The Seminoles rank first in the ACC in field-goal defense (37.5).
"Hopefully we can be more consistent as we move through the rest of our season," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We bounced back (Saturday)."
After finishing with game highs of 18 points and four blocks against the Hurricanes, Bernard James will try to keep things going against the Hokies. He had 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in the win last month.
Virginia Tech (14-11, 3-7) has won two of three by a combined three points. Dorian Finney-Smith tipped in Robert Brown's missed 3-point attempt with 1.8 seconds remaining to give the Hokies a 66-65 victory over Boston College on Sunday.
Finney-Smith had 17 points and eight rebounds and Virginia Tech won despite the Eagles shooting 55.8 percent. Boston College led by six with 1:44 left.
"They grew up a little bit tonight," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said. "They showed they wanted to win. They showed great resiliency. They showed some toughness. ... We made some plays we hadn't made. It's good to find a way to win a close game. We've got something we can build on."
Greenberg gave forward C.J. Barksdale his first start, though the freshman produced just three points in 12 minutes. Senior guard Dorenzo Hudson scored 11 in his return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench the previous seven games.
"I told them before practice (Saturday) that the five hardest-playing guys were going to play," Greenberg told the Hokies' official website. "We're just trying to find one thing that can help us redefine ourselves."
Greenberg hopes his team can be more physical against the Seminoles after the Hokies shot 30.5 percent in the first meeting and had 15 shots blocked - tied for the most in an ACC game since 1999.
Virginia Tech has lost seven in a row in Tallahassee since last winning there in 1990.