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January 19, 2011

Seminoles off to best start in ACC since '93

Wins don't come any uglier than this. But, that doesn't mean they can't make some impressive history.

Florida State's 55-53 triumph at Miami Wednesday night pushed its ACC record to 4-1, which equals their best start since 1992-93. That team reached the Elite Eight and featured four first-round draft picks (Sam Cassell, Doug Edwards, Bob Sura and Charlie Ward).

It also keeps the Seminoles in a three-way tie for first place in the ACC along with Duke and Boston College, pushes their winning streak to three straight and gives them their first ACC road win. They host the Eagles (14-5) on Saturday at 7 pm.

A nightmarish offensive performance makes it tough to believe the 'Noles managed to accomplish any of above. They missed their first 10 shot from the field and their last five free throw attempts. They shot a season-low 32.1 percent (18 of 56) from the floor. Terrance Shannon (10 points) was their only player in double figures.

Once again, their stellar defense proved to be the savior. The 'Noles, which led the nation in field goal percentage defense (35.0 percent) coming into the game, held the Hurricanes (12-6, 1-3), who led by as much as 12 points in the second half, to a season-low 34 percent shooting (17 of 50). The Hurricanes had a chance to win or tie down the stretch but guard Durand Scott missed back-to-back shots in the last 10 seconds.

Zoning issues are back

Much of FSU's offensive woes can be attributed to their inability to get open shots against a zone.

Last week, the 'Noles faced mostly man-to-man defense in their wins over then-No. 1 Duke (66-61) and NC State (84-71). Miami stuck mainly to a two-three zone just as it has in past meetings with the 'Noles, who struggled against similar zones in losses at Auburn (65-60) and Virginia Tech (71-59).

This time around the 'Noles did a solid job protecting the ball. Their 11 turnovers matched a season low (they had 19 at Virginia Tech).

But, they were rarely able to penetrate off the dribble, get the ball inside or create offense through ball movement (point guard Derwin Kitchen had four assists but he was the only Seminole with more than one). That led to little space for the shooters on the outside and the 'Noles made just 3 of 17 shots from 3-point range. Few of those attempts were taken without a defender in a shooters' face or nearby.

Chris Singleton missed all six of his 3-point attempts in what was a rare off night for the star forward. Singleton went 2-of-13 from the floor and finished with eight points. It ended a streak of six straight games in double figures for the junior. He also failed to log a steal or a block for the first time this season.

The 'Noles also endured some severe struggles from the free throw line. After going 19-of-23 from the charity stripe versus NC State, they combined to make just 16 of 30 free throws (53 percent). Big man Bernard James missed all four of his free throw attempts and is now shooting a paltry 42.6 percent from the free throw line.

With those kind of results and shooting numbers, the 'Noles can expect to see much more zone defense for the rest of the season.

Notables

  • FSU is the first team to win at Miami this season and has now won four straight in the series. The Hurricanes were 8-0 on their home court coming into the game.

  • FSU freshman Okaro White made all six of his free throw attempts.

  • Since inserting Shannon into the starting lineup against Duke, the Seminoles have yet to lose and are now 3-0.

  • Miami was without reserve guard DeQuan Jones (broken hand).

  • The official attendance was 6,600.



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