With three sophomores in the starting lineup, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton knows his team will experience moments of immaturity. He just hopes they can learn from those moments.
The 25th-ranked Seminoles look to bounce back from their first ACC loss Tuesday night when they try to beat North Carolina State for the third consecutive time.
Florida State (13-3, 1-1) enters its conference home opener after having its seven-game winning streak snapped with a 77-68 loss at Maryland on Sunday. Despite cutting a 16-point deficit to three in the second half, Hamilton was unhappy with his team’s first half, when it shot 40 percent and went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal at one point.
“In the first half, we took the first shot opportunity that was available,” Hamilton said. “We really hadn’t been doing that. We’d been moving the ball to make the extra pass.
“That’s a sign of a team that’s still growing and learning and developing. Hopefully, we’ll learn from it and give the people that we’re playing against a more consistent focus. This is only one game. I like our team, I think we’ll adjust and bounce back. Hopefully we’ll learn from the miscues.”
Despite those difficulties on offense, defense may be the biggest key to victory for the Seminoles. They are generally stingy, allowing 58.2 points per game, but are 1-2 when yielding 70 or more.
Seeking to avoid its first consecutive losses of the season, Florida State may benefit from returning home to the Tucker Center, where it has won 13 in a row.
“We are going to recover,” said sophomore guard Deividas Dulkys, who had 15 points against Maryland. “We are going to do whatever we can to get ready for the NC State game.”
The Seminoles have won their last two meetings against North Carolina State (11-5, 0-2), but both came on the road. The Wolfpack have taken six of the last seven matchups in Tallahassee, including a 69-66 victory in their last visit Jan. 26, 2008.
Florida State didn’t have 7-foot-1 Solomon Alabi in that loss.
Averaging a team-leading 12.4 points with 7.1 rebounds, Alabi had 17 points and nine boards Sunday despite missing most of the first half with foul trouble. He had 12 points in Florida’s State’s 78-65 win at N.C. State last season.
Sophomore Chris Singleton added 12 points and 14 rebounds on Sunday.
N.C. State has dropped four of seven, including a 70-62 home loss to Virginia on Saturday in which the Wolfpack shot 40.4 percent and blew a 10-point second-half lead.
“Our lack of mental toughness was a disappointment,” coach Sidney Lowe said. “To get a lead and let down mentally was very disappointing. We have to do a better job.”
Junior Tracy Smith scored 18 a team-high 18 points in the loss. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 19.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in his last four games.
This is the lone meeting between the schools in 2009-10, marking the fifth time in the last six years they’ll face each other only once.
This is the first of three straight games against ranked opponents for the Wolfpack, who will host No. 24 Clemson on Saturday and eighth-ranked Duke on Jan. 20.
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