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November 24, 2009

FSU blown out in Gainesville

Photo Gallery: Florida State at Florida

Gainesville, FL -- Florida State men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton could only laugh.

After watching his team falter under the bright lights of a nationally televised game against arch rival Florida, Hamilton was told that junior point guard Derwin Kitchen was claiming full responsibility for the Seminoles' offensive meltdown in a 68-52 defeat.

"I think there's enough blame to go around," Hamilton said. "Anytime you go out and get your hat handed to you like this tonight, I think the coaches, the players - we all have to assume some of that responsibility."

After looking so dominant in three victories against overmatched opponents, the Seminoles (3-1) seemed rattled by Florida's 2-2-1 press defense. They committed 16 turnovers in the first half, and the Gators capitalized on nearly every one of them.

Things didn't go any better for Florida State when the Seminoles broke the pressure.

Instead of using their advantage in numbers to attack the basket, they looked unsure in trying to set up their half-court offense.

"We were extremely tentative when we got the ball across halfcourt," Hamilton said. "We were indecisive, and we didn't move the ball."

"When we would get out of the press, we would stop and hold the ball," said sophomore forward Chris Singleton, who scored 10 points in the first half but finished with just 14. "We should have just kept moving and make them catch up to us."

Kitchen, who led FSU with 15 points, and sophomore Luke Loucks both tried to take the blame for the miscues. As a team, the Seminoles finished with just nine assists and 23 turnovers.

Loucks and Kitchen combined to commit nine turnovers with three assists.

"They just kind of sat back and let us make mistakes, and that is what we did," Loucks said. "We turned the ball over way too much. They did a good job executing their gameplan, but we did a poor job executing ours. It really starts with me and Derwin as the point guards. We have to get our offense in order. We will get it going."

After falling behind by 20 points at halftime, the Seminoles stormed back into the game with a 19-2 run keyed by their own defensive pressure. But after Kitchen sliced Florida's lead to five points with a 3-pointer, the Seminoles again fell apart.

"There were three straight possessions where we made three mental errors," Hamilton said. "That gave them opportunities to go down [in transition], and they scored on all three possessions. It was almost like it was stage fright. Sometimes you need a game like this to bring you into reality."

FSU was bidding to win its fourth consecutive game against Florida, but the Gators said they were equally intent on stopping that streak. Florida coach Billy Donovan challenged his team to not let the Seminoles control the game from a physical standpoint, the way they have in recent years.

"Two years ago in this building, Jason Rich and some of the guys they had, I thought they totally physically manhandled and dominated us," Donovan said. "Last year at their place, I thought that we did a little better job physically competing. Today, at least in the first half, we looked physical."


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