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Florida State routed Charleston Southern 71-48 on Thursday night. It marked the Seminoles most lopsided victory of the season and the first time in weeks that they were not sweating a game out down the stretch.
"Well, it did feel a little different standing on the sideline and not saying those Hail Mary's the last three or four minutes of the game," head coach Leonard Hamilton joked.
The Seminoles improved to 11-1 by outscoring the Buccaneers 46-16 in the paint behind freshman center Solomon Alabi who scored 16 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked six shots - all career highs.
"You got a little glimpse of what Solomon's capable of," Hamilton said. "He's come a long way from last year when he was struggling just to get up and down the court. ... He's growing. He's gaining confidence, and he's becoming more comfortable."
The Nigeria native was joined in double-digits by 6-foot-11 fellow freshman Xavier Gibson, who finished with a career-high 11 points in 17 minutes. On the night, no Seminole played more than 26 minutes.
"We are trying to get Xavier a lot more minutes so we can increase our depth," Hamilton said. "We think we can be a team with a decent amount of depth but we are still youngsters, we are still babies trying to find our way and tonight I thought we made a step in the right direction."
At one point during the first half, Florida State led by as many as 16 points but after a 6-0 run by the Buccaneers to close the half the Seminoles went into the locker room with a 36-26 advantage.
"I thought our guys were very focused right from the beginning. I thought we were much more defensive oriented. We were active and we played with a lot more energy."
Hamilton was pleased with his team's effort in the opening half, but was disappointed by their lack of offensive rebounds and challenged his players to clean up on the boards in the final 20 minutes.
"We only had five offensive rebounds at halftime," Hamilton said. "We challenged them at halftime to be much more aggressive on the glass. That is an area where it just takes a lot of concentration."
The Seminoles opened the second half with an 11-3 run to seize control. They finished the game with 20 offensive boards as they downed the Buccaneers, who fell to 5-5.
Florida State also finished the game with a season-high 16 fast-break points.
"It is a good number for us," Hamilton said. "Getting (Derwin) Kitchen on the floor I think adds to that."
On a night where the offensive attack was as smooth as it has been all season, Hamilton said the improvement was largely due to the addition of the sophomore transfer. Kitchen finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers in 24 minutes of action.
Jamarco Warren led Charleston Southern with a game-high 21 points, but the Buccaneers managed just seven second-half field goals. They also had two starters manage to score zero points in 45 minutes of combined action.
With the victory, Florida State has equaled its best 12-game start in program history heading into Sunday's home game against No. 3 Pittsburgh.
"By no means have we arrived. We still have a lot of work to go," Hamilton said. "We have some guys coming in Sunday that will give us a tremendous test."
The game against the Panthers is set to tip-off at 5:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by FSN.
The AP contributed to this story.