Mon, 25 Jan 2021

After long layoff, Florida State set for NC State

Field Level Media
13 Jan 2021, 05:40 GMT+10

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton says his team is still trying to find its identity.

That process was halted over the past two weeks due to a COVID-19 positive test and contact tracing within the program, discoveries that led to three postponed games.

On Wednesday night, Florida State (5-2, 1-1 ACC) will end its longest in-season layoff since a holiday break during the 1956-57 season when it plays host to North Carolina State (6-3, 2-2) in Tallahassee, Fla.

"We missed those practices," Hamilton said. "We are kind of still a team, like most teams right now. We are still growing and developing."

One of Florida State's strengths is field-goal defense -- a category in which it ranks 45th nationally. The Seminoles have held opponents to under 70 points in four of their five wins but have allowed an average of 81.5 points in their two defeats.

Their offense has come primarily from three guards: M.J. Walker (15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game), Scottie Barnes (11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists) and Anthony Polite (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds). Forward Balsa Koprivica has contributed 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds.

"It's early for us right now," Hamilton said. "We just need a few more games under our belt before we can start realizing who we are."

NC State ranks seventh in the nation in steals per game (9.8), 11th in turnover margin (plus-5.8) and 12th in turnovers forced per game (18.56).

But during their past two defeats, the Wolfpack went minus-5 in turnover margin against Clemson and minus-3 against Miami.

"We have got to get in practice and really work on ball security," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. "That was something that we concentrated on the last couple of days. That is what we talked about going into the game. It's so many guys doing it, that we all have to do a better job in that area."

Keatts said his team also has yet to hit its stride due to injuries to key players such as Braxton Beverly (ankle). But Devon Daniels (15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2 steals per game), DJ Funderburk (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Jericole Hellems (11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2 assists) have led NC State's average output of 77.3 points a game.

"I like where we can go once we get everybody healthy and everybody back playing good basketball," Keatts said.

--Field Level Media

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