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March 3, 2010

FSU defeats Wake Forest

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The Florida State basketball team knows more than most that the NCAA tournament selection committee can be a most fickle group.

But after the Seminoles' 51-47 over Wake Forest on Thursday night, even head coach Leonard Hamilton admitted that his team made yet another step towards a second consecutive trip to the Big Dance.

"Well it moves us closer to whatever that criteria is - that moving target," Hamilton said with a laugh.

The victory ups Florida State's ACC record to 9-6, and should the Seminoles beat Miami in Saturday's regular season finale, they'll be assured of no worse than the No. 4 seed at next week's ACC tournament.

That FSU is even in that position was hardly a sure thing in the waning minutes against the Demon Deacons.

Shades of Sunday's tough loss to Clemson appeared late in the second half of Thursday's game, as the Seminoles once again held the lead, and once again appeared poised to let it slip away.

This time, however, there would be no breakdown.

With Wake trailing by two and holding for the last shot, Derwin Kitchen jarred the ball loose from Wake's Ari Stewart and Chris Singleton grabbed possession with five seconds to play.

Following an FSU timeout, freshman Michael Snaer successfully received the in-bound pass, and then stepped up to make the free throws that sealed the victory. Snaer finished with a team-high 14 points.

"You don't have to wonder, if somebody else goes to the line, 'Oh man, I wonder if he's going to make these free throws,'" Snaer said. "If you go to the line and you know in yourself and you trust yourself - if you want the job done well, do it yourself."

Once again, Florida State's defense bailed out a shaky offensive performance.

The Seminoles mustered just four field goals in the second half, but led most of the way thanks to a stifling defensive effort from Ryan Reid, Chris Singleton, and Xavier Gibson to shut out Wake junior forward Al-Farouq Aminu.

Aminu, a potential NBA lottery pick, came into Thursday's contest averaging a double-double of 16.4 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Against the Seminoles, he had zero points (and took just one shot), and finished with more fouls (five) than rebounds (four).

"He's one of those players that can play the inside and outside and can penetrate and can get and-ones, so we just wanted to make sure we cut that out," said sophomore Xavier Gibson, who finished with 10 points - six of which came from 3-point range. "And [we wanted to] limit his rebounds, because a lot of his points come from offensive rebounds."

Now, the Seminoles focus turns to Miami, which FSU defeated 71-65 on Feb. 6., and securing the 10th ACC win that should remove all doubt from the Seminoles' NCAA tournament resume.

Florida State posted a 9-7 ACC record in 2006, but was left out of the NCAA field.

"We can enjoy this (Wake Forest win) for a little bit, but we realize now that the Miami game takes on a tremendous amount of importance," Hamilton said. "There have been a lot of teams left out of the tournament at 9-7 namely us."


Talk about it on the Tribal Council or the Hoops Message Board.



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