Skidding Pittsburgh hopes to stop spiral vs. No. 16 Florida State
Florida State's most recent performance -- an 81-60 rout of No. 7 Virginia -- gave another glimpse of how dangerous the Seminoles could be this March.
"We can play anybody in the country when we're locked in and focused on our opponent and the game plan and execute it," Seminoles forward RaiQuan Gray said. "We have to keep that focus the rest of the year."
Most of FSU's success -- and most of its games overall this season -- has come at home where it has 24 consecutive wins against conference opponents.
With COVID-19 issues shuffling the Seminoles' schedule multiple times, they have played only three road games and gone 1-2.
After the postponement of its contest at home against Virginia Tech, No. 16 FSU (12-3, 8-2 ACC) will hit the road Saturday when they travel to Pittsburgh for the first of four away games over the final five remaining regular-season games that are scheduled.
The Seminoles' last defeat came at Georgia Tech on Jan. 30. FSU then had road games at Boston College and Virginia Tech postponed.
Pitt (9-8, 5-7), which had its own game scheduled for Sunday against Clemson postponed, has been spiraling over the past month and has lost six of its past seven games.
The Panthers lost their third in a row after their comeback attempt against North Carolina State at home fell short this past Sunday in a 74-73 loss. Justin Champagnie's 18 points and 10 rebounds weren't enough as he and Au'Diese Toney each missed would-be go-ahead shots in the closing seconds.
"We wanted to make a play, whatever play was there," Pitt coach Jeff Capel said.
Toney finished with 17 points and Xavier Johnson, despite continuing to get into foul trouble, added 14 points. Johnson picked up four fouls against NC State and has fouled out of two of Pitt's past five games. Johnson has also been called for technical fouls twice in those games drawing the ire of Capel.
"Nothing I've said has worked," Capel said. "I've been telling him for three years, two and a half years now, 'Stop talking to the refs, stop being demonstrative.' Nothing we've said has worked."
But the main issue for the Panthers once again was their defense as the Wolfpack shot 56.9 percent from the field (29-for-51).
"They were able to get the ball inside, get easy baskets," Capel said. "When a team shoots 57 percent, you haven't done anything well defensively."
Gray had 15 points while M.J. Walker led FSU with 17 points as they handed Virginia its worst conference defeat since a 65-41 loss to North Carolina on Feb. 18, 2017.
FSU shot 54.2 percent from 3-point range (13-for-24) and 50 percent overall (29-for-58), and its depth showed again as six players scored seven or more points.
Balsa Koprivica returned from an ankle injury and finished with nine points while doing a solid job defensively against Virginia's Kihei Clark, holding him to 12 points.
"We got a tremendous amount of energy from everyone who came in the game," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I thought that allowed us to play at a very, very high level for the entire game."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 18, 2021