No. 10 Florida State wary of Wake Forest

NCAA Basketball
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No. 10 Florida State wary of Wake Forest

Florida State has turned into one of the country’s early surprise teams, rising to a No. 10 ranking.

That doesn’t do a whole lot for coach Leonard Hamilton unless the Seminoles show they’re capable of maintaining that level of play.

“We have to realize we’re 3-1 (in the Atlantic Coast Conference),” Hamilton said. “If we’re only going to win three games in the ACC, that’s not going to get you very far.”

The next assignment for Florida State (13-2) comes Wednesday night with a road game against Wake Forest at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Demon Deacons (8-5, 1-2) have pulled a few recent surprises as well, but nothing yet to the degree of what the Seminoles have done.

Florida State secured a 78-65 victory at Louisville on Saturday with a performance that looked dominant at times. It seems unlikely that the Seminoles will be able to sneak up on another team after knocking off a top 10 performer for the second time this season.

“No one has picked us for the championship,” Hamilton said of conference forecasts. “We haven’t done anything other than win a few games. We have to keep tacking on victories.”

Wake Forest’s three-game winning streak includes toppling then-nationally ranked Xavier and pulling off Saturday’s comeback victory at Pittsburgh. The Demon Deacons trailed the Panthers by 16 points in the first half before charging back.

The outcome wasn’t secure until the last second, when Olivier Sarr blocked a would-be tying shot, then Brandon Childress sank a couple of free throws to nail down the 69-65 victory.

Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said he liked how Childress, a senior guard, came to the forefront even without a big game in terms of point production.

“We don’t win that game without Brandon’s floor game,” he said. “Down the stretch, he nailed some free throws to seal the game for us. He wanted the ball in pressure situations like he always does.”

Depth is what stands out for Florida State. Hamilton said that’s an area that helps the team thrive.

“We’re still kind of working on our rotation a little,” he said. “That’s who we are. That’s the system we’ve used. … We’ve played a longer bench because that’s what we had to do.”

So the Seminoles, who hold a six-game winning streak, can be difficult to scout and devise a game plan for because the key contributors come from all angles.

“You’ve got crazy athleticism with Florida State,” Manning said. “The first thing that jumps out at me is the athleticism and their length and their depth. They don’t have a particular scorer who’s putting up crazy numbers because they’re so deep.”

The depth showed in several ways last week. Florida State’s M.J. Walker sat out a victory against Georgia Tech with a hip injury. He was back in action for 23 points and three assists at Louisville in 27 minutes off the bench.

Across a 2 1/2-week span, Wake Forest has played only once. That Pittsburgh game attracted Hamilton’s attention because his team opened the season with a 63-61 loss on the same court.

“A place we lost at, and (Wake Forest) won there,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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