Feb. 15, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Senior Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It may have been early in the league schedule, but when Florida State and Virginia Tech met for the first time in 2012 it was already make-or-break time for the Seminoles.
After being blown out by Clemson in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener a few days earlier, the FSU men’s basketball team simply couldn’t afford to start the season in a two-game hole.
“We had to win that game,” FSU senior guard Deividas Dulkys said this week about the Jan. 10 meeting between the ‘Noles and Hokies. “It was either going up or going down and not coming back. We lost to Clemson it was a terrible feeling. We had to come back to what we are capable of which was defending. Clemson scored a lot of points on us [and] got easy baskets and Virginia Tech didn’t get that.”
The Seminoles (17-7, 8-2 ACC), now ranked Nos. 20 and 21 in the two major polls, wound up avoiding a nightmarish start to the ACC slate by relying on their typically-strong defensive pressure.
In the 63-59 win over the Hokies (14-11, 2-7), the ‘Noles registered a season-high 15 blocks and Bernard James tied his career best with 18 points. The Seminoles held Virginia Tech to just over 30 percent shooting from the field and below 20 percent from 3-point range.
“I think both teams were trying to find themselves at that particular time,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought there was a sense of urgency around that game for them and for us and it was a very hard-fought game. Extremely competitive. I thought that during the critical part of the game Bernard James stepped up and made some super plays that really made a difference int the game.”
James and his teammates will have to utilize the same defense-first recipe Thursday night when Virginia Tech comes to town for what is FSU’s first rematch of the season.
A lot has changed since that first meeting — FSU has won seven of eight games since then while Virginia Tech has lost five games in the same span — but the familiarity between the two ball clubs remains.
“They know what we did in the first game and we know what they did so it’s a lot of different adjustments that the coaches have to make,” Dulkys said.
Florida State has had to make a mental adjustment too.
Unlike that first game when FSU was focused intently on avoiding an early fall to the bottom of the conference standings, this time around the collective attention is aimed at maintaining a league lead while not overlooking the task at hand.
“We want to be as focused as we can,” Hamilton said. “We sure don’t want to start thinking too far ahead. If you do, then bad things can happen and I think that maybe what happened to us when we went to Boston College.”
Fans that come to Thursday’s game have a chance to earn a free ticket to the March 4 contest against Clemson. The first 150 people to bring an item for donation and drop it off at the Goodwill truck parked near the entrance of the Donald L. Tucker Center will receive a ticket for what will be FSU’s final regular-season game of the 2011-12 season.
Then at halftime, former FSU football player Shawn Powell will be honored for a recent award he won following his All-American 2011 campaign.
|Stat Comparison||Florida State||Miami|
|FG Percentage Defense||.375||.404|
|3-Pointers Per Game||5.9||6.0|
|Assists Per Game||11.8||12.2|
|Turnovers Per Game||16.8||12.6|
|Blocked Shots Per Game||6.0||3.7|
|Steals Per Game||8.7||5.8|