TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida State players swear coach
Leonard Hamilton didn't raise his voice, at least too much, with
them at halftime Wednesday night before the Seminoles got rolling
on the way to a 68-54 victory over Georgia Tech.
The Seminoles (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) were playing the last-place team in the Atlantic Coast Conference and were trailing 25-24 at halftime.
Florida State hadn't played in a week and looked rusty, scoring
only 10 points over the final 12:45 of the first half and tossing
the ball away on 11 occasions -- plenty to frustrate even a veteran
coach like Hamilton.
"It did get a little hyped up every once in a while," said senior center Bernard James, who had 13 points and eight rebounds in the win. "Strategy type stuff. A little reminder of the small things."
Those little things paid big dividends as Florida State shot
61.5 percent and had just four turnovers in the second half when
Tech had 14 of its 24 turnovers.
Michael Snaer scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half as
the Seminoles got their sixth straight win.
The victory gives Florida State (15-6, 6-1) its best start in
league play since joining the ACC for the 1991-92 season and it
keeps the Seminoles tied with North Carolina for first place. Duke
is right behind at 5-1.
Snaer's big second half helped awaken a slumbering offense that
managed to shoot just 34.8 percent in the first half. The 6-foot-4
junior made 5 of 7 from 3-point distance and has made 11 of his
last 13 tries from beyond the arc, including a buzzer-beating
game-winner at Duke on Jan. 21.
Georgia Tech (8-14, 1-7) had the halftime lead despite not
having scoring and rebounding leader Glen Rice Jr., who missed the
game with a foot injury.
"I think they played up to us," Snaer said. "They hit us
every chance they got."
Two free throws by Reed capped an 18-8 run that gave Georgia
Tech its first lead, 23-22 with 3:09 left in the half.
"This was a good opportunity for us to get that feel of what
it's going to be like when people are going to be playing you when
you are in first place in a league that is as talented and as well-coached as the ACC," Hamilton said. "We are in a position that we
have never been in before ... at the top of the heap and people are
wanting to get to that type of spot."
The Seminoles get a big test Saturday when Virginia (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) visits.
But for the most part it was tough enough against Georgia Tech,
which has dropped 10 of its last 11 games under first-year coach
Brian Gregory. And it wasn't made any easier for the Yellow Jackets
without Rice and his averages of 13.0 points and 6.5 rebounds.
"Our guys competed pretty well and did some good things,"
Gregory said. "Unfortunately we're not at a point to sustain that
type of concentration and effort that you need to be successful on
the road in this league, especially on the road against a team that
keeps coming at you."
Georgia Tech climbed within 49-42 with 7:51 left before an 11-3
run by the Seminoles that was capped by James' slam put the game
out of reach.
Okaro White's thundering dunk capped a 10-0 spurt early in the
second half that gave Florida State a 43-32 lead. The Seminoles had
their largest lead at 68-51 on Snaer's fifth 3-pointer in the final
seconds. White finished with 11 points and senior guard Luke Loucks
added nine points and seven assists.