TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With a three-game road trip behind it, the Florida State men’s basketball team returns home a little more weathered, but also a little bit wiser.
No. 15 FSU dropped the first two games of the trip – at Georgia Tech and Syracuse – before returning to form and cruising to a lopsided victory at Miami on Wednesday.
The Seminoles (19-4, 7-3 ACC) believe the lessons learned in those first two games helped spur them to a win in the third. And they hope those lessons will carry over to Sunday’s home game against Clemson (12:30 p.m., ESPNU).
“I learned that we have to be careful to maintain our identity of who we are and what’s best in relation to us and how we need to play to be successful,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I think we had a little slippage in those areas. And I think our guys really have a much better understand of how we’ve got to stay focused.”
At 13-8, 3-6 in the ACC, the Tigers have disappointed in coach Brad Brownell’s seventh season at the helm.
However, Clemson comes to Tallahassee having won two straight games, including a double-digit victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
And, as Hamilton noted, the Tigers have been on the wrong end of several close games: They lost by one point to both Virginia and Virginia Tech, by five to Notre Dame and by three to North Carolina in overtime.
“Their record could be completely opposite,” he said. “They very well could’ve won three more games, and they’d be in the top 25.”
But while the Tigers are 8-3 at home, they’re a combined 5-5 in road and neutral-site games.
And the Seminoles have enjoyed a virtually unprecedented home-court advantage this season. They have a 17-game winning streak inside the Donald L. Tucker Center dating back to last season, and are expecting a fourth-straight sellout on Sunday.
“From a coaching standpoint,” Hamilton said, “I sure like giving our visitors a little dose of the same medicine we receive when we go on the road.”
Despite their uneven record, the Tigers still have one of the ACC’s top scorers in senior Jaron Blossomgame. The 6-7, 220-pound forward averages 18.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Blossomgame was one of four Tigers to score in double digits against Georgia Tech, with Avry Holmes, Shelton Mitchell and Donte Grantham joining him.
“I just know that they play hard,” sophomore guard Terance Mann said. “They’re big at every position. It’s going to be tough.”
Florida State doesn’t need any reminder of what can happen if it doesn’t come out with a sharp effort.
Those setbacks against Georgia Tech and Syracuse are lesson enough.
“Sometimes you want to have a walk in the park like some conferences have,” Mann said. “But there’s nothing like that in the ACC.”