Stetson men's basketball coach Derek Waugh wasn't all that impressed with Florida State's defense when he watched the Seminoles struggle earlier this month at the Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach.
Then he watched them dismantle Minnesota's offense on Tuesday night, and his outlook changed dramatically.
"It scared the lights out of me," Waugh said. "They were really active [in that game]. They're a very quick, good, experienced team."
Waugh learned Friday night that the Minnesota game was no fluke. Led by guards Toney Douglas and Ralph Mims, who combined for 10 steals, the Seminoles led for nearly the entire game and cruised to a 72-59 victory.
Douglas, who leads FSU with 26 steals on the season, has recorded 16 in the Seminoles' past three games.
"He's made tremendous improvement since last year," said Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team improved to 7-2. "He's determined that he's going to add that as part of his game -- somebody that really pressures the ball. And for the most part, he's doing an outstanding job."
With the defense holding Stetson in check -- the Hatters scored just 21 points in the first half -- Hamilton was able to give several reserve players extended playing time. Freshman center Solomon Alabi saw extended action for the first time this season; he scored six points, blocked two shots and grabbed two rebounds in 14 minutes.
And walk-on shooting guard Brian Hoff played nine minutes, including one lengthy stretch early in the first half. He scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and delivered one assist.
Against an overmatched opponent, Hamilton and his staff clearly were more interested in testing out different lineups and rewarding players like Hoff than extending their lead.
"Hoff has had an excellent fall," Hamilton said of the junior guard from Jacksonville. "He's really, really been playing. He's got some experienced guys ahead of him, and I tried to get him in early tonight to kind of reward him for how well he has been practicing and shooting the ball.
"It's just ridiculous how he's been drilling us [on the scout team in practice]. Whenever he gets a clean look, you can just about count on it -- it's going down."
Mims and Douglas not only were Florida State's defensive stoppers, but they also led all scorers with 16 points apiece. The two guards, who sometimes rotate at point guard and sometimes play as a tandem, boasted nearly identical stat lines -- they each connected on five field goals, three 3-pointers and three free throws. The only difference was that Douglas attempted one more 3-pointer than Mims.
They also combined to connect on four straight 3-pointers during a stretch in the second half that spoiled any Stetson hopes for an upset. That surge sparked a 20-3 run during which the Seminoles extended a seven-point lead to 24.
"That was the run that kind of put the game out of reach," Waugh said.
If there was a negative to Friday's game it was that the Seminoles were out-rebounded, 33-32, by a much smaller team. Three Stetson players finished with five rebounds, while FSU had just one player reach that total, senior guard Jason Rich.
FSU was short-handed inside, as sophomore forward Ryan Reid was suspended for a violation of team rules. Hamilton wouldn't say whether Reid would be available Sunday against Samford.
The Bulldogs are 2-3 on the season. Game time is set for 2 p.m.