TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s basketball team is hoping that a fast start can lead to a strong finish.
The Seminoles enter Saturday’s trip to Virginia Tech (3 p.m., ACC Network) looking to snap a three-game losing streak and regain some positive momentum before facing Duke, Notre Dame and Syracuse to finish the regular season.
In each of their last three losses, the Seminoles fell into big first-half deficits. Sometimes, like in home games against Miami and Georgia Tech, they were able to rally and make those games interesting. Other times, as in last week’s visit to Syracuse, they weren’t.
If FSU (16-10, 6-8 ACC) is to beat the Hokies (13-13, 5-8) and take the first step toward improving its postseason picture, it can’t afford to fall into another hole.
“We’ve got to come out with energy,” freshman forward Terance Mann said. “Start the first half, second half with energy and we should be good.”
Mann might represent one of FSU’s best chances to reverse that trend.
Already regarded as one of FSU’s highest-energy contributors off the bench, Mann was one of the Seminoles’ few bright spots in Wednesday’s loss to Georgia Tech.
He had a team-high 18 points and added five rebounds in a career-high 30 minutes of action.
“I was just playing my game, being aggressive around the rim, trying to do the little things and things started going my way,” Mann said. “So it was good.”
And it’s not as if the Seminoles haven’t had some solid stretches during their three-game skid.
Neither counted for much on the scoreboard, but FSU had the ball and a chance to win in the final seconds against Miami, and the Seminoles rallied from 17 points down in the second half to cut their deficit to just two in the last minute against Georgia Tech.
“Seeing that we were about to lose the game, I think that sped us up a little bit,” senior guard Devon Bookert said.
The Seminoles are up against a Virginia Tech team that has been in something of a tailspin in recent weeks. The Hokies have lost seven of their past eight games, although four of those losses have come against teams ranked No. 16 or better.
And their one victory came over the Clemson Tigers, who are also on the fringe of an NCAA tournament berth.
“What we’ve got to do is take the negatives and the positives, learn from the negatives and take the positives,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “And if each game takes on a different personality, we’ve got to be ready to play. We’ve got to be ready to play when we go to Virginia Tech.”