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FSU Basketball aiming for historic home win today vs. Syracuse

College basketball teams don't typically get opportunities to make history in December. But this wouldn't be a typical historical achievement.

If Florida State can knock off visiting Syracuse today in the Tucker Center (4 p.m., ACC Network), the Seminoles will win their 26th consecutive home game against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

The streak dates back nearly three calendar years, and if FSU does indeed reach 26 straight, it would tie Duke for the longest such run in conference history. The Blue Devils accomplished the feat from 1997 through 2000.

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FSU coach Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles have won 25 straight ACC home games.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles have won 25 straight ACC home games. (USAToday Sports Images)

"This is a unique opportunity for us," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "It's not something that we planned for, that we talked about. But it's developed, and a lot of people have been a part of it. ... Everybody can take pride in helping us get to this point.

"However, we still are not there yet. ... So we need everybody to be on board with us on Saturday. This team needs their support. Let's see can we go out and all put our hands together, heads together, our emotions together, see if we can go in and make history."

FSU's ACC home win streak started with a 77-68 victory against Clemson in January 2019, and it has continued with all varieties of wins. Two of the 25 came in overtime, several have been blowouts (including two of 30-plus points), and many have come down to the final possession.

When reflecting on the Seminoles' home success Friday morning, Hamilton was quick to point out that it has only been possible with the help of so many contributors.

He talked about his players and his "great staff" of assistant coaches. He heaped praise on the university's administrators and athletic trainers; strength coach Mike Bradley and the academic support staff; nutritionists, marketing and promotions workers; student booster clubs, fans and community support.

He was especially effusive in his praise of the fans, who have helped make the difference in a slew of close games.

"Given people a little dose of that medicine that we get when we go on the road," Hamilton said. "When you think about the ACC, it's the winningest, most successful conference in the history of college basketball. And you have so many knowledgeable basketball fans that have been going to these arenas for years and years and years. ...

"There's no doubt that there have been a lot of things going on behind the scenes."

For FSU to pick up that historic 26th win, Hamilton's team will need to bounce back quickly from a lopsided loss Tuesday night at No. 2 Purdue.

The Seminoles trailed by eight points midway through the second half of that game, but the Boilermakers went on a 17-2 run to blow things open. In Hamilton''s mind, Purdue is the best team in the country, and every time the 'Noles made a mistake, the more experienced Boilermakers made them pay.

The key now for FSU (5-2) is reducing some of those mistakes. But that has proven difficult for a team with so many new faces -- of the eight players who have logged more than 100 minutes in the first seven games, five are in their first year in the program.

"It's obvious that the learning curve is still a little high with where we are in terms of the development of our team," Hamilton said. "I like this team. I love our energy. I love the effort that they're giving us. And we expect to continue to grow and improve."

Syracuse is 4-3 overall, but the Orange are coming off of a double-overtime home win against Indiana.

They are led by five players in double-figures scoring: Buddy Boeheim (21.0), Joseph Girard III (15.0), Jimmy Boeheim (14.3), Cole Swider (12.7) and Jesse Edwards (12.6).

Head coach Jim Boeheim's legendary 2-3 zone defense has not been very effective this season -- the Orange are giving up more than 80 points per game -- but Hamilton pointed out that it will present challenges for a young lineup seeing it for the first time.

"We're learning on the fly," Hamilton said. "But I do believe if we can continue to keep winning games while we're learning and growing, I really am encouraged that we have the ingredients to have a good basketball team as we move through the season."

Injury updates

Hamilton said center Tanor Ngom (knee) will be out for at least six weeks. Backup center Naheem McLeod, who missed the Purdue game with a minor ankle injury, should be available.

And senior point guard RayQuan Evans, who also missed the Purdue game to attend his brother's funeral, is questionable. He is back with the team, but Hamilton said he won't push Evans to play until he is emotionally ready.


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