Noles Win 3rd Straight ACC Game
RALEIGH, N.C. - After jumping on North Carolina State early, Florida State had just enough to finish off the rapidly sinking Wolfpack. Jason Rich scored 21 points Wednesday night while the Seminoles nearly blew an early 19-point lead before holding off the Wolfpack 72-62, giving Florida State its third straight league victory. Toney Douglas added 20 points despite playing through a tough shooting start for the Seminoles (17-12, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who scored the first 12 points en route to a 25-6 lead with about 7 1/2 minutes left before halftime. Florida State never relinquished that lead, though the Wolfpack managed to close within two points early in the second half before the Seminoles finally pulled away. With wins against Clemson, Boston College and N.C. State, Florida State finds itself stuck in the middle of the muddled ACC standings. But considering they had lost five of six games before their modest streak, the Seminoles figure they have plenty of cause for optimism."You want to be playing your best basketball in February," Rich said. "Right now we're just trying to play good basketball and aren't concerning ourselves with our goals at the start of the season. I know it sounds cliche-ish, but that's why we've been able to put three together. We're not looking ahead to the next opponent, but just looking at the game at hand." The Seminoles shot just 42 percent, but they took a 34-23 rebounding advantage - including 13-3 on the offensive glass - that gave them a 15-5 edge in second-chance points. They also scored 18 points off turnovers. Florida State also finished with a season-low six turnovers, while Coach Leonard Hamilton said his team played some of its best defense despite being fatigued late. "We came out today trying to execute our game plan, be patient and know that if you swing the ball, eventually they'd break down," said Ralph Mims, who had 12 points and a key 3-pointer late. "We executed our plays, figured out what type of system they were trying to run and we just capitalized on them." Trevor Ferguson had a career-high 17 points off the bench to lead the Wolfpack (15-13, 4-10), who lost their sixth straight game to continue their late-season freefall. Picked to finish third in the ACC in the preseason, N.C. State is currently the only team with 10 league losses.