TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Second-year Florida State coach Leonard
Hamilton may have found his answer for winning in the Atlantic
Coast Conference: A couple of freshmen.
First-year players Alexander Johnson and Von Wafer took charge
during a 16-2 second-half run Sunday, and Florida State bounced
back from their only loss with a 79-75 victory over 24th-ranked
Johnson's ferocious dunk gave the Seminoles a 57-56 lead with
8:48 left as they snapped a five-game losing streak against
Maryland dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
"That was a huge play," Hamilton said. "It gave our team a
lift and excited the crowd and our team seemed to feed off that."
Moments later, Wafer sank a 3-point shot from deep in the corner
as Florida State built a 65-58 lead during the decisive spurt that
wiped out a five-point deficit early in the half.
Johnson led Florida State with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting
while Wafer added 11 with a 4-for-7 night that included a pair of
"They're learning what it's like to play at this level,"
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Johnson's dunk impressed his older
teammates as well.
"I though the goal was going to break, he's so strong," said
Tim Pickett, who fed Johnson for the dunk.
Florida State (11-1, 1-0) blew a 14-point lead early in the game
and fell behind 56-51 in the second half before the Seminoles' run
gave them a 67-58 lead with 6:20 left.
Wafer and Nate Johnson hit successive 3-point shots during the
spurt to help the Seminoles win their first conference opener in
Pickett scored 13, all in the second half. The Seminoles started
the season with 10 straight wins before losing 63-56 to Pittsburgh
Maryland (7-3, 0-1) were 44 percent (29-for-66) from the field,
but shot poorly from the free throw line, especially in the second
half when the Terps went only 5-for-11.
But the early deficit hurt the Terrapins.
"We paid the price," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "When
you get down 18-4, you're going to lose something to get back."
The Seminoles led 37-36 at the half even though Pickett and
Anthony Richardson, their top two scorers, were held scoreless.