In several ways Wednesday night's game against Wake Forest was more of a trap game for Florida State than the Maryland game was. The Seminoles had just come off of a dramatic win over Duke, traveled back home only to return to North Carolina a few days later, were playing an improved over last season but still struggling Demon Deacon team, and could have been looking ahead to having the next seven days off before its next game.
And the game seemed to start out that way with the 'Noles playing sluggish trailing 7-2 early, unable to make baskets and several turnovers or near turnovers. Nearly ten minutes into the half FSU was just 5 of 17 from the floor.
Leonard Hamilton called it "not so much a lack of effort but a lack of focus on offense."
Florida State found that focus however, eventually cruising to a 75-52 win to improve to 14-6, 5-1 and still tied for the conference lead.
"We started to throw the ball inside," Hamilton said. "We stepped it up in the second half. We imposed out will."
What Hamilton left out was how his offense handled everything Wake threw at them. The Deacons tried to press full court and got burned by easy uncontested slam dunk baskets at the other end. They tried a zone defense only to be beaten by lobs to Okaro White streaking along the baseline for the layup. And when the Deacs tried man to man, a variety of players scorched them with three pointers.
The Deacons closed the game to 30-28 early into the second half on a catch and shoot three pointer by C J Harris. But then FSU blew the game open with a 20-4 run to lead 50-32 with 9:39 left in the game highlighted by back to back threes by Michael Snaer from the right wing.
The Seminoles simply wore down the Deacs and did it with their depth. That was reflected in two statistics .... 30 bench points to 9 and four starters for the Deacons that played 32 or more minutes. Florida State didn't play anyone more than 27 minutes.
FSU was led in scoring by Snaer's 18 points with White adding 11 and Xavier Gibson 10.
The Seminoles were consistent from behind the arc as well connecting on 8 of 16.
Wake's game strategy Hamilton noted was to back up defensively and make FSU beat them from the three point line. When that didn't work that opened up opportunities around the basket, along with the adjustment at the half, to consciously get the ball down low as well as run more transition.
It helped FSU's cause that Wake's leading shot blocker, Ty Walker, went out in the first half with a concussion and did not return.
And then there was the usual defense.
Hamilton was not necessarily pleased though with his team's performance in that area.
"We weren't that sharp on defense," Hamilton commented. "Part of our scouting report was to contain Harris and (Travis) McKie. We didn't do a good job on Harris (16 points) or Tony Chennault (11) who drove past us all game long."
What his defense did do right however was hold the 4th leading scorer in the ACC, McKie, to just 1 of 13 and 3 points well under his 17.2 average.
"We switched on him and gave him a different look every possession."
Hamilton may not have been all that pleased with the team's defense and he was correct about Chennault in addition to McKie having some open looks that didn't go down. But the defense did hold Wake to just 35% for the game.
Also of note were the paltry 11 turnovers the Seminoles had. Better ball security leading to more shots that are finding the bottom of the net has made a large difference in the team's improved play.
So with the week off, FSU will rest up and get in some practice before taking on Georgia Tech at home next Wednesday night. Tip off is at 7:00 PM and to be aired on RSN.