TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There’s no changing what happened in Atlanta.The Florida State men’s basketball team played its worst game of the season Wednesday night at Georgia Tech and the Seminoles were rewarded in kind with a 78-56 that sent a shockwave through the FSU locker room.“It’s a game that you just want to get out of your system,” junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said.
“I sure hope that it’s a teaching moment,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton added. “We’ve got to learn something from it, from the misery of this game.”
The good news for the Seminoles (18-3, 6-2 ACC) is that, lopsided as it was, the Georgia Tech loss was just their third of the season. And FSU has yet to lose back-to-back games this season.
But that last point will be put to the test Saturday, when the Seminoles visit perennial power Syracuse. The Orange (12-9, 4-4) is off to one of the worst starts of coach Jim Boeheim’s tenure, but the Carrier Dome still rates as one of the most difficult road venues in college basketball.
So, if the Seminoles want to avoid their first losing streak, there’s no time to linger on the past.
“Championship teams don’t lose two in a row,” sophomore guard Terance Mann said. “And that’s our goal.”
Some interesting matchups will be at play:
Florida State’s defense ranks second in the ACC with 14.5 forced turnovers per game, while Syracuse’s turns it over just 10.8 times per game, also second-best in the league.
The Seminoles also rank fourth in the ACC in offensive rebounding, while Syracuse ranks 13th in defensive rebounding.
Then again, the best way that Florida State can improve from Wednesday might be to not create so many rebounds in the first place.
FSU took a startling 71 shots against Georgia Tech but made just 20.
That number could be a cause for concern, considering that Georgia Tech often attacked the Seminoles with a zone defense. A 2-3 zone defense is one of the hallmarks of Syracuse basketball.
“Georgia Tech threw a little bit of everything at us,” Rathan-Mayes said. “I don’t know how much there is we can learn from it getting ready for Syracuse, but we’ve played against zones throughout the year.”
FSU’s visit to Syracuse falls in the middle of a three-game road swing. The Seminoles will visit Miami on Wednesday and then return home to host Clemson on Feb. 5.
Even with the best start in recent program history, the Seminoles are 1-2 in true road games this season. Evening that record is now a top priority.
“We’ve just got to flush it out,” Rathan-Mayes said in reference to the Georgia Tech game. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. We’ve got to understand that we lost, we’re 6-2 now, and we’ve got to go to Syracuse and get a win.”