Florida State Builds On Duke Win, Gains Momentum In ACC

Erik SchultzCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2011

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 19:  Chris Singleton #31 of the Florida State Seminoles looks on towards the end of the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HSBC Arena on March 19, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

One week after their outstanding performance in knocking off previously undefeated Duke, the Florida State Seminoles have now also shown the ability to win when their level of play is not so outstanding.

Florida State survived a not-so-easy road test on Wednesday night, beating Miami 55-53.  The Seminoles shot just 32 percent for the game, while holding the Hurricanes to 34 percent shooting.  Not many teams are able to pull out a conference road win when making less than one out of every three shots. 

It’s no secret that Florida State plays excellent defense.  With Wednesday night’s win, however, this team showed they have a chance to win every game they play—home or away—no matter how well or poorly they play on the offensive end on a given night. 

The Miami win follows an 84-71 win over NC State on Saturday in Tallahassee.  The Wolfpack did not pose quite the same challenge as the bigger, more physical Hurricanes.  The Seminoles seemed to score at will against the Wolfpack, and shot nearly 55 percent in that game.  Many of their baskets were in transition after forcing Wolfpack turnovers. 

Florida State has now won three straight ACC games, improving to 4-1 in the conference—good for a three-way-tie for first place with Duke and Boston College.  The Seminoles will play Boston College in Tallahassee on Saturday evening. BC's only loss in ACC play came to the very same Miami team that the Seminoles beat on Wednesday.

Another element of Florida State’s recent success, one that cannot be quantified, is a newfound confidence.  A win over an undefeated Duke will do that for a team.  The fact that the Seminoles survived a hot shooting second half from Kyle Singler and held on for the win also carries strong significance. 

In an ACC-Big Ten Challenge meeting with Ohio State in Tallahassee, the Seminoles held the Buckeyes to just 32 percent shooting.  However, they let the game get away late in the second half, losing by 14.  They also held Florida under 35 percent shooting, but ultimately lost by four, also in Tallahassee. 

After those two non-conference near-misses, Florida State got their breakthrough win.  That win has given them the confidence to believe they can still win when they don’t always play their best basketball. 

That confidence was certainly required on Wednesday in Miami.  The Seminoles were able to overcome a woeful opening 10 minutes of play, in which the team did not make a single shot from the field. 

Two weeks ago, that kind of start would have likely buried them, and ultimately chalked up as a loss.  What a difference two weeks has made for Florida State. 

Don’t forget—the week prior to beating Duke, the Seminoles inexplicably lost at Auburn (who could be regarded as the Wake Forest of the SEC).  The Tigers managed to shoot 47 percent against the Seminoles, the highest any team has shot against them this season. 

After the Auburn loss, the Seminoles then went to Blacksburg and lost by 12 to Virginia Tech, who took 37 free throws in the game, and made 34 of them.  The final score couldn’t be considered a huge surprise, but certainly not one that gave Florida State confidence to build from heading into the Duke matchup.

Now, those two losses seem like they were last season.  From here on out, expect Florida State to be competitive in every ACC game they play, even if it's not always pretty.

Two weeks ago, the mentality seemed to be:  “How will we lose this game?” Now, it is:  “How will we win?”