Needing a win on the road to improve their chances of earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the Seminoles (19-7, 7-5 ACC) blew out Virginia on Wednesday night with a dominating 69-50 victory.
"We played like we are growing up," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game. "A lot of heroes. I thought Ryan (Reid) and Chris (Singleton) did an outstanding job against their two leading scorers. I thought our other guys chipped in and contested. Xavier (Gibson) came off the bench and gave us big minutes."
The 19-point win over the Cavaliers marks Florida State's largest margin of victory in an ACC road game by a Hamilton coached team, while equaling the Seminoles largest ACC road win ever (at Georgia Tech, 1999). Wednesday's win follows Sunday's dominating defensive effort against Boston College where the Eagles were held to just 47 points, the lowest total of any opponent against the Seminoles in ACC history. Virginia's 50 points on Wednesday was the second lowest scoring total for an FSU opponent in ACC play.
"After that Clemson game, we felt like we let ourselves down and our fans down with our effort and we talked in the locker room after that game about how we are a defensive team and that we had to concentrate on our effort," sophomore guard Luke Loucks said. "I think we have shown what we are capable of and who we have to be to help us win games."
Sophomore forward Chris Singleton led a well-rounded effort with 12 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two assists, and a block. Loucks contributed 11 points and was joined in double figures by sophomore forward Xavier Gibson and senior forward Ryan Reid, who both chipped in 10 points apiece.
"We are improving on the offensive end," Hamilton said. "We seem to be playing, winning games by committee on the offensive end."
Reid and Gibson saw increased playing time, as Solomon Alabi was slowed by a minor shoulder injury suffered early in the game.
"It was very important for us to step up because we know (Solomon) is very important to both our offense and defense," Gibson said. "Coach went to me to back him up, so I knew I had to make an impact on the game."
Florida State scored just six points in the opening nine minutes of play but picked up the pace after that with 11-0 run. But FSU really took command with an 11-4 run to close the half and take a 33-24 advantage into the locker room.
"We did adjust a little bit," Loucks said. "We did feel like we were kind of playing at their tempo and we realized we needed to play at our tempo. Our defense was disruptive and shut whatever they were doing down and made it really difficult to score. I felt like we did that well.
"We realized we needed to put the accelerator down on them."
As a team, Florida State shot 28-for-56 (50%) from the floor and 7-for-14 (50%) from the perimeter. Led by Loucks' four assists to just one turnover, the Seminoles as a team accumulated 15 assists to just 10 turnovers.
The one negative from Wednesday night's effort were the struggles at the free throw line with FSU hitting just 6-for-12 (50%).
Defensively, the Seminoles held Virginia (14-10, 5-6 ACC) to 18-for-48 (37.5%) shooting and limited star sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg to a season-low four points. It marked only the second time this season that Landesberg, who was averaging 17.8 points per game entering the contest, was held to single digits.
"I thought our defensive intensity maintained at a high level for the entire game," Hamilton said. "I thought we were focused."
Junior guard Jeff Jones led the Cavaliers with 13 points.
Florida State will have the weekend off before traveling to North Carolina next Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
"Like coach said in the locker room, this isn't the time to exhale," Loucks said. "We still have work to do. This isn't a time to relax, it is a time to get better and to keep pushing forward."