Jan. 12, 2014
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By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a battle akin to the ongoing meteorological debate - Global Warming vs. Polar Vortex - the Florida State men's basketball team was hot enough from beyond arc to melt the Arctic ice cap, routing Maryland, 85-61.
The Seminoles converted 16 of 24 3-point attempts, the most by any Atlantic Coast Conference team this season and the most by any Florida State team in 23 years against a conference opponent. Ironically, the sizzling shooting display came on the heels of a four-game stretch where the `Noles converted just 10 of 50 attempts from beyond the arc.
"Florida State was terrific," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "They made shots we didn't expect them to make, or as many. Sixteen of 24 is tremendous. We didn't get anything going offensively, but you have to give them credit. They were tremendous defensively."
FSU (11-4, 2-1 ACC) limited Maryland to 33 percent shooting, but its defensive prowess was somewhat lost in the barrage of 3-balls, particularly in the first half. The Seminoles drained 10 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes, including five on consecutive possessions as they extended a precarious 22-16 lead to a 37-19 cushion with 3:50 remaining.
Ian Miller, who led the Seminoles with 20 points, accounted for five first half 3-pointers - six on the night - including two in the middle of the decisive stretch first half stretch.
"It was just a good day for ball movement and getting wide-open shots; finding people instead of taking contested shots, which led to a big win," said Miller, who converted 7 of 12 shots, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range. "We hit easy shots and that's the name of the game, getting easy shots."
In its final ACC appearance at the Donald L. Tucker Center, Maryland did not manage a field goal over the final 8:30 of the half. The Seminoles built a 42-22 lead with a 25-7 closing run that was never threatened.
Maryland (10-7, 2-2) never did get out of its deep freeze, suffering its worst loss in 43 ACC dates with Florida State. The Seminoles previous largest series win was 22 points - 100-78 - on Feb. 10, 1996, also in Tallahassee.
It was a far cry from the Seminoles' disjointed performance against Virginia in their ACC home-opener just eight days earlier, when they suffered a 62-50 setback.
"Against Virginia, we weren't able to get the ball moving," said FSU sophomore guard Aaron Thomas, who had 14 points against Maryland. "The ball was sticking a lot. That game really woke us up. We have more assists to turnovers now and that's leading to easy buckets."
"Making the extra pass, moving the ball and executing on the offensive end gave us some high percentage shots," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Tonight they were falling for us. Obviously we'd love to shoot that way every night, but that's probably not going to happen. ... If we can move the ball and get high percentage shots, we can pretty much live with outcome from there."
Turgeon confessed that Maryland's game plan was to slow FSU's transition and penetration game, adding that most every team in the ACC would prefer to allow the `Noles to try and win from the perimeter.
When asked if the Terps were daring the Seminoles to put up jumpers, Turgeon said: "I wouldn't say dare. I would say make jump shots over an extended hand. They made a lot of shots. You get (ticked) because they haven't made 3's all year. ... You get frustrated and then you come down and don't play well at the other end of the floor."
Florida State came into the game with 58 made 3-pointers on the season; an average of 4.2 per game. Okaro White (15 points) drained his teams' fifth 3-pointer of the night with 6:12 remaining in the first half - the first of five consecutive shots to go down beyond the arc.
"We shoot better in practice all the time," Hamilton said. "We're starting to understand that we have to play to each other and create for each other. Sometimes that's an elusive mindset to get into. Going back and watching the Virginia film, it was obvious that we were very impatient."
Hamilton, however, refused to get too caught up in his teams' first half shooting performance.
"I knew we were shooting the ball well, but I know the game can change very quickly," he said. "You can't let yourself get too high. ... You look around at what's been going on in the league and the games have been very interesting."
Maryland's night did not get much better after managing a season-low 22 points in the first half. The Terrapins never got closer than 16 after the break before 3-pointers by Thomas and Devon Bookert (12 points) pushed the lead back to 20. Montay Brandon scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half as the Seminoles led by as many as 31.
Hamilton and the `Noles, who are just a game out of first place in the ACC standings, will take their act on the road Wednesday to face Miami (9 p.m.).