TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s basketball team is riding a three-game winning streak that has the Seminoles back to .500 in ACC play and closing in on the top half of the league standings.
That streak has coincided with a recent uptick in production and performance from senior Montay Brandon, who after six straight games of scoring two or fewer points has found ways to contribute on the scoreboard, on the glass and on defense.
Over the last three games, Brandon has averaged 5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. He and the Seminoles will look to win their fourth straight game when they visit Wake Forest on Saturday (noon, RSN).
For Brandon, a native of Greensboro, N.C., the game represents what is likely his last opportunity to play in front of a hometown crowd.
“It’s definitely a special moment, and it will be even better if we get the win,” Brandon said. “Definitely going in there with the right focus and going in there and trying to win, especially in front of my friends and family.”
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton likes to preach that there are no easy outings in the ACC, and he hopes that message resonates for Saturday’s game.
The Demon Deacons are just 1-9 in conference play and have lost seven straight.
Hamilton, though, believes that Wake’s record belies their team’s potential. Four of the Deacons’ last five losses have come against ranked opponents, and two were decided by single digits.
“When you go back and watch the film, it’s been very interesting,” Hamilton said. “With five minutes to go in some of these games, the games could go either way.
“Then for whatever reason, like sometimes teams will do, the other team turns it up a notch and you miss three or four possessions, they hit a couple 3s now all of a sudden you’re down seven. Then you’re fouling and what was a four-point game goes to a 12-point loss.”
Hamilton noted several players who have FSU’s attention. He called senior forward Devin Thomas (16.3 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game) “a double-double machine,” and said that senior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre is one of the quickest players in the conference.
Meanwhile freshman guard Bryant Crawford shoots 42-percent from 3-point range, good for fourth in the league.
“This is a typical ACC team, regardless of what (the records) say,” Hamilton said. “… They’re right there.
But Florida State’s players believe that the nicks and bruises they suffered in the early part of the conference slate have taught them not to take anyone for granted.
The Seminoles have recovered from a 2-5 start in league play, but with games left to play against Syracuse, Miami and Duke, they still need to bank as many wins as possible between now and March.
“We had to fight through adversity earlier in the season,” freshman guard Malik Beasley said. “I think that’s helping us now. We need every single win regardless.”