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November 18, 2009

FSU destroys Stetson 80-38

Photos: Florida State vs. Stetson

Stetson men's basketball coach Derek Waugh called it "the longest 40 minutes" of his life.

And if Florida State keeps playing defense the way the way it did Wednesday night, he might not be the last opposing coach to experience that feeling. The Seminoles (2-0) held the visiting Hatters to 10 points in the first half and cruised to an 80-38 victory in a game that was never close.

"I was impressed with the fact that this team seems to be committed to defending, which is something we have worked very hard to try to instill in them," said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team only defeated Stetson by two points last season. "Defensively, there are a lot of things that I like. Guys will maybe lose their positioning, and a guy will help him out, rotate and move to the top and switch. Those things you like to see happen, especially early in the year. Our defense is definitely a little further along than our offense."

The 38 points for Stetson marked the lowest scoring output for any team in Civic Center history - the previous low was 41 points by both Savannah State in 2001 and Florida International in 1994. It also was the fewest points allowed by Florida State since Memphis scored 34 against the Seminoles in March 1979.

Led by sophomore Xavier Gibson (6), FSU blocked 11 shots and forced Stetson into 17 turnovers. Eight different Seminoles recorded steals.

"I think that they're going to be a tough opponent for everybody they play just because they're quick, they play good D, and obviously they're tall and long," Waugh said. "Unless you're [shooting] the ball real well, they sit there in the paint, and you're not going to score. It forces you into an outside shooting team and if you're not making shots - which they do a great job of taking away those shots - then you're going to have a tough night offensively."

FSU allowed Stetson to connect on just 3-of-21 shots in the first half and romped to a 46-10 advantage at the intermission. After scoring on a free throw with 8:58 remaining in the first half, the Hatters didn't score again until guard Mark Lohuis hit a 3-pointer with 16:31 left in the game - it was a scoreless streak of more than 13 minutes.

As well as the Seminoles played defensively, Hamilton wasn't thrilled with their execution on offense. They connected on just 6-of-20 shots from 3-point range and finished with one more turnover (11) than assist (10). Florida State did show great balance on offense for the second consecutive game.

After five players finished in double-figures scoring against Jacksonville University, four different Seminoles reached that mark against Stetson.

Shooting guard Deividas Dulkys led the way with 13 points, but he was followed closely by forward Chris Singleton (12), forward Ryan Reid (11) and forward Xavier Gibson (11).

"We are playing extremely unselfish and moving the ball, but the execution on the offensive end still leaves a lot to be desired," Hamilton said. "We keep things in perspective. I think we had both of these teams out-manned, no doubt about that, so you are actually playing against yourselves and your ability to stay focused and execute things you have in your game plan. I think we are trying to do that."

FSU's focus was evident not only on defense but on the boards, where the Seminoles grabbed a 50-24 advantage against the smaller Hatters. Singleton and Reid led FSU with nine and eight rebounds, respectively.

Hamilton said his players appear to be learning from the sins of previous teams, which sometimes allowed inferior opponents to fight back into games after the Seminoles had built early leads.

"They are following the leadership of Ryan, Jordan [DeMercy] ... and those guys are speaking to them about experiences they have had over the years when we faltered and not played with the kind of intensity that we have played with in the first two games," Hamilton said. "I am glad to see them responding in that way."


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