Georgia Tech-Florida St. Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- Having won five straight, Florida State's lengthy layoff may have not come at an ideal time, but it likely won't have too much difficulty dealing with its next opponent.
The 21st-ranked Seminoles look to win their seventh consecutive game over last-place Georgia Tech on Wednesday night in Tallahassee.
Florida State throttled Wake Forest 75-52 on Wednesday, and after dropping its ACC opener has won five straight to challenge heavyweights North Carolina and Duke for the conference lead.
The Seminoles (14-6, 5-1) have been winning with their stingy defense. They are holding teams to 62.2 points on 38.2 percent shooting during the winning streak.
Despite the run, which includes victories over the Tar Heels and Blue Devils, Florida State isn't looking ahead - even with Saturday's visit from No. 16 Virginia on tap.
"We're still using a one game at a time approach," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "These games can go either way."
Coming off a long layoff, the Seminoles will look to get off to a better start Wednesday after a slow first half against the Demon Deacons. They shot 37.5 percent to take a six-point lead into the break before becoming more aggressive at getting the ball inside.
Michael Snaer scored 18 points - going 4 of 4 from beyond the arc - as Florida State shot 68 percent in the final 20 minutes. The Seminoles outscored Wake Forest 40-16 in the paint.
Snaer, who hit a 3-pointer as time expired to defeat Duke on Jan. 21, is averaging 17.0 points the last four games, but it's his defense that has Hamilton impressed.
"If you watch Michael play, he plays with the fire of a warrior," Hamilton said. "I think he's as good a defender as we've had here at Florida State and we've had two guys that were defensive player of the year."
Snaer scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in a 72-63 win over Georgia Tech last February - the Seminoles' sixth straight against the Yellow Jackets.
After some emotional wins the last two weeks, Hamilton said the team was being careful not to overlook Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-6), which has dropped five in a row and nine of 10.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 93-81 loss at North Carolina on Sunday. Leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. was held to four points on 2-of-7 shooting, and Georgia Tech fell behind by 20 at the half.
Rice said he was bothered by an injury to his right big toe suffered during a recent practice. He played just 22 minutes.
"No excuses," said Rice, who scored 24 points - on 28 shots - in last season's loss to the Seminoles. "I should have come out there and played better. It just wasn't a good game today."
Rice's struggles weren't the only problem for the Yellow Jackets, who have trailed by an average of 14.2 points at halftime during their losing streak after allowing the Tar Heels to shoot 60.0 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
Coach Brian Gregory said the slide has been taxing on players and the coaching staff, but he's been trying to maintain a positive focus.
"When you're in this thing, and you know exactly where you are at and where you want to get to, sometimes you have to pull out some positives signs that aren't noticeable to other guys," Gregory said.
Georgia Tech has lost seven in a row to ranked opponents.
Updated January 31, 2012