No. 17 Florida State surging as Wake Forest visits
Florida State moved up five spots to No. 17 in the Associated Press' Top 25 poll this week after its gutsy, 80-75 overtime win Saturday against No. 16 Louisville.
The comeback victory against the Cardinals also marked the Seminoles' fifth win in a row, inserting Florida State (18-5, 6-4 ACC) squarely back into the ACC race for one of the top four seeds with the conference schedule beginning to wind down.
"It's been an amazing feeling knowing where we've come from," senior guard Terance Mann told the Tallahassee Democrat on Saturday after the win against Louisville. "Being 1-4 and that feeling of being at the bottom of the league when you know you're not supposed to be there -- mustering up some confidence and being able to punch people in the face and get back is definitely a great feeling."
Next up? A struggling Wake Forest team, which has lost five of its last six games and eight of 10 coming into Wednesday's contest in Tallahassee, where the Seminoles have only lost once this season -- a last-second heartbreaker to No. 1 Duke in early January.
Florida State is in the midst of its longest ACC win streak in seven years. They won seven conference games in a row back in the 2011-12 season, the same year the Seminoles won their only ACC Championship.
The Demon Deacons (9-13, 2-8), meanwhile, are second-to-last in the ACC, but they are coming off their first win in a nearly a month. Last Tuesday, guard Chaundee Brown drilled a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left in overtime to beat Pittsburgh 78-76, snapping a five-game skid.
Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said the long break in between games has been good for his team, and he hopes the Demon Deacons can start fast Wednesday against Florida State -- something they didn't do in lopsided losses to Clemson (63-37), Louisville (82-54) and No. 3 Virginia (68-45) over the last few weeks.
"A lot of that is making shots. We've had opportunities to score the ball, we just haven't been able to score the ball early," Manning told 247sports.com "Even the Pitt game, in the first half we missed five to six layups, or what I consider layups. You make those and it's a little bit different spin. For us, we have to get better with the starts, but we also have to reward ourselves with our opportunities as well."
Wake Forest is led by guard Brandon Childress at 15.3 points per game, followed by forward Jaylen Hoard (14 points, 8.4 rebounds) and Brown (10.9 points). Florida State is paced by forward Mfiondu Kabengele with 13.6 points per game, followed by Mann at 12.3. Mann also leads the team with 6.6 rebounds per game.
Wednesday will mark the first of two late-season meetings between the Seminoles and the Demon Deacons. The rematch will come in both teams' regular-season finales March 9 in Winston Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest also marks one of Florida State's final four home ACC games left on the schedule. After Wednesday, the Seminoles start an eight-day, three-game road trip: Saturday at Georgia Tech, Feb. 19 at Clemson and then a showdown with No. 8 North Carolina on Feb. 23.
The Demon Deacons, meanwhile, get the Tar Heels on Saturday at home.
Wake Forest leads the all-time series with Florida State 26-25.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019