TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time in nearly two months, the Florida State men’s basketball is looking to bounce back from a loss.
The Seminoles, ranked 10th in the latest Associated Press Top 25, dropped a 96-83 decision at North Carolina on Saturday to snap a school-record 12-game winning streak.
FSU hung within single-digits for much of the game but was undone by struggles at the free-throw line (where they shot just 46.2 percent) and on the glass (UNC turned 21 offensive rebounds into 28 second-chance points).
So the Seminoles left Chapel Hill, N.C., feeling both frustrated and encouraged by the fact that they didn’t bring their best effort against the Tar Heels.
“Even though it definitely wasn’t one of our best games, we were still in the game,” freshman guard Trent Forrest said. “So it was just little things that we had to focus on, that we didn’t do. It was a disappointment because we lost. But we know what we should’ve done better.”
Added senior forward Jarquez Smith, “We kind of use it as a reality check, knowing that things aren’t always going to go our way. We’re not always going to play the best game possible. We just have to learn to bounce back from tough games like that.”
That process started Sunday, when the Seminoles returned to practice and started to prepare for No. 15 Notre Dame, which visits the Donald L. Tucker Center on Wednesday (7 p.m., RSN).
And, as fun as winning streaks can be, there’s nothing quite like a disappointing defeat to ratchet up the intensity on the practice courts.
“There was a lot more energy (in practice),” Smith said. “We didn’t like the feeling of losing, so we all picked it up a little bit more.”
That’s good news, because, at 16-2 and 5-0 in the ACC, the Fighting Irish are one of the nation’s hottest teams, having lost only to No. 1 Villanova and No. 15 Purdue last month.
Despite not having a single player among the conference’s top-10 scorers, the Irish do lots of little things well: Their 82.8 percentage from the free-throw line is the best in the league, and their 39.5 percentage from 3-point range is second only to Virginia.
And when the Irish do miss, junior forward Bonzie Colson (ACC-best 10.7 rebounds) is often there to grab the rebound.
“They’re a good team, definitely a good passing team,” Forrest said. “Fundamentally sound. They make a lot of 3s and shoot the ball very well, so we just have to play defense like we know we can.”
Notre Dame marks the fifth of six straight games against ranked opponents for FSU, which will also host No. 9 Louisville on Saturday.
And, after starting 3-0 in that stretch, a meeting with the Irish could prove pivotal: A win would ensure that Seminoles emerge no worse than 4-2 against one of the most difficult scheduling runs in ACC history, while a loss would put 3-3 at stake on Saturday – still nothing to scoff at, but not what the Seminoles had in mind after toppling Virginia, Virginia Tech and Duke.
Regardless, the Seminoles feel that the experience gained over the last several weeks will come in handy as the calendar inches toward March.
“(The coaches) kind of related it to the NCAA tournament – you have six games against six of the best teams in the country,” Smith said. “So it’s been great. It’s now like a normal thing that we’ve gotten used to.”