Seminoles beat Yellow Jackets at their own game, win third straight
Georgia Tech coach men's basketball coach Josh Pastner knew his team couldn't run with Florida State. Or shoot with Florida State. Or score with Florida State.
What he didn't know until he walked off the Tucker Center court around 2:15 p.m. Saturday was that his his Yellow Jackets wouldn't be able to defend with the Seminoles, either.
Pastner accomplished his goal of "mucking up" the game and keeping the high-flying Seminoles below 60 points. But Florida State delivered in its own impressive defensive effort -- its third in a row -- en route to an important 59-49 victory before a crowd of 10,181.
The win improved the Seminoles' record to 16-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACC. Leonard Hamilton's club is back to .500 in the conference after a 1-4 start.
Georgia Tech fell to 11-11 and 3-6.
"Our game plan was to keep the game in the 50s and to muck it up and muddy it up, and we did that," said Pastner, whose team ranks among ACC and national leaders in several defensive categories. "Once again, we have 49 points, and that just makes it hard to win a game."
Facing a stingy Yellow Jackets zone defense that is designed to take opponents out of their comfort areas, Florida State struggled shooting the ball for most of the game. The Seminoles connected on just 11 of 28 shots from the field in the first half, and they were far worse in the second -- they hit only 5 of 18 after halftime.
But FSU's 34.8 percent shooting performance was actually better than Georgia Tech's 28.3. The Yellow Jackets connected on just 17 of 60 shots from the field and 3 of 21 from 3-point range.
Tech scored just 22 points in the second half on 8-of-37 shooting.
"I thought our defense was pretty solid," Hamilton said. "I really did. ... Overall, we did a pretty solid job defensively. And it's going to take that kind of effort on a more consistent basis."
It was actually a continuation of FSU's recent strong play on defense. Last Sunday at Miami, the Seminoles held the Hurricanes to 66 points, which was nearly 10 points below their scoring average.
And the 'Noles have been particularly effective at harassing opponents outside of 3-point range over the last three games -- they've held Georgia Tech, Miami and Clemson to a combined 22.4 percent (15 of 67) from long range.
Tech guard Jose Alvarado's 0-for-10 shooting day on Saturday was reminiscent of Miami guard Chris Lykes' 0-for-12 effort last weekend.
"That's always how Coach Ham and his defense has been -- taking away key players," junior guard Trent Forrest said. "That's been helping us in the last two games. Taking away their main guys, and having other guys that aren't used to doing certain things do that."
Florida State had its own struggles on offense, but the 'Noles clearly benefited from having six days between games. Forrest, guard Terance Mann and forward Phil Cofer, all of whom are battling foot injuries, seemed more energetic and explosive than they have in recent games.
Mann finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Forrest scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds while recording three assists and three steals.
FSU also connected on 23 of 30 shots from the free-throw line.
"I think I'm back to 100 percent with my foot -- I'd say 95 or 100 percent," Mann said. "I got a couple of dunks today, so I was way more explosive. Being able to get out there and just move faster."
Said Forrest: "My legs felt pretty good, and I was able to play longer spurts than I usually am. I felt pretty good."
FSU now will take its three-game win streak on the road to face Syracuse this Tuesday.