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January 17, 2012
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Florida State has pulled off an about face from its dismal ACC opener last week, and the formula is unfamiliar.
The team known for its defensive acumen is using lots and lots of offense.
The Seminoles poured it in for the second straight game, this time overwhelming Maryland 84-70 at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Tuesday night. Seemingly unrealistic after the 20-point loss at Clemson on Jan. 7, FSU is now 3-1 in the league for the second straight season.
The win gave the normally defensive-focused Seminoles (12-6, 3-1 ACC) their first back-to-back 80-point performances in ACC play since the 2006-07 season, a span of 86 league games.
"I think we're just learning how to play within ourselves. I think we're moving the ball a little better, we're involving more people, we're executing the things that we were not doing as well," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We are not trying to do some things we aren't good at. Guys who are drivers are driving. Our big guys are catching the ball and not forcing anything. I think we're doing a better job of creating for each other that allows us high percentage shots."
After Deividas Dulkys did the long-distance damage (32 points) against Saturday's 90-57 romping of UNC, the scoring was well-rounded on Tuesday. Florida State netted 42 points in the paint, garnered 19 off of 15 Maryland (12-5, 2-2 ACC) turnovers, 11 points came off the fast break and the Seminoles finished 6-of-13 from three-point range and 20-of-23 at the free throw line.
"They're making shots, playing with confidence, they're making their free throws, it's pretty impressive," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "They're just executing at a high level."
Florida State could pull away from the Terps early. No team built a lead bigger than seven as FSU took a 36-34 lead at the break. But the Seminoles warmed up from there, using a 21-3 run early in the second half - highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Dulkys - to build its lead to 61-45 with 12:39 to play. The Terps would never get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
"When you're passing it around three and four times a possession, you're going to get open shots," senior point guard Luke Loucks said when asked about the recent rash of offensive success. "And it's been working well for us."
Junior Michael Snaer paced the 'Noles with 19 points and was one of four FSU players in double figures. Sophomore Ian Miller tallied a career-high 18 points while Bernard James was once again aggressive on the block, scoring 17 points with six rebounds and two blocks.
While another 80-point game may be asking a lot next time out - at Duke on Saturday - Florida State has quickly turned a disappointing start into a promising future in league play. And they've done it with points.
"We've dug a little hole for ourselves," Hamilton said. "and we aren't up and looking out of the hole yet."