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January 16, 2010

Florida State gets back to .500 in ACC

videoFSU-Va. Tech Video Highlights / cameraPhotos: FSU-Va. Tech

For Leonard Hamilton, Florida State's game with Virginia Tech on Saturday was just another example of, as he likes to put it, "Life in the ACC."

And after escaping with a 63-58 victory over the Hokies, life in the Atlantic Coast Conference is a little bit easier for Hamilton and the Seminoles, who survived a furious Virginia Tech rally in the game's waning moments to snap their two-game losing streak.

No. 25 Florida State (14-4, 2-2 ACC) held a 57-49 advantage with just 37 seconds left in the game, but the Hokies drained three straight 3-pointers to cut the lead to one with four seconds to play.

The 9,214 fans in attendance could only breath easy after freshman Michael Snaer made two free throws and Deividas Dulkys intercepted the subsequent in-bounds pass.

"One interesting thing about the ACC, every night there's drama," Hamilton said. "You never really know what's going to happen when two competitive teams get together. But I was very proud of our youngsters."

Hamilton insisted that with so many games left to play, his team was hardly back up against a wall.

But facing a potential 1-3 start, and with crucial tilts against Georgia Tech and Duke looming large on the horizon, the Seminoles played with an urgency that was noticeably absent in back-to-back losses to Maryland and North Carolina State.

"You can tell from the beginning of the game," said Derwin Kitchen, who scored 11 points… "Everybody was intense, everybody was ready for this game, because we know we can't lose three games in a row."

From the opening tip, the Seminoles looked noticeably different than they did in their ugly loss to the N.C. State earlier this week. Florida State grabbed the lead for good with 17:46 remaining in the first half, and, as Tech coach Seth Greenberg put it, "punched us straight in the face."

After struggling in its past two outings, Florida State's defense returned to its usual form. Tech shot just 19-of-55 (34.5 percent) from the floor, and - thanks in large part to Dulkys - made star junior Malcolm Delaney work for each of his 23 points.

"[In practice] I think we just looked back at the beginning and saw how we got here, and that's something we tried to just motivate and be like 'We can't have no more N.C. States, we can't have no more Marylands, we can't no more Floridas or Ohio States,'" said sophomore Chris Singleton, whose five blocks tied a career-high. "We've just got to come to play."


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