TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State rarely trailed in non-conference play. So when the 20th-ranked Seminoles found themselves down by eight points less than 6 minutes into Wednesday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Wake Forest, coach Leonard Hamilton knew he was going to find out who on his young team could handle playing from behind.
After one test, FSU could say it handled itself well.
After trailing for most of the game, the Seminoles went on a run of 17 straight points over a 4-minute span in the second half as they posted an 88-72 victory over the Demon Deacons.
“I think we are growing and maturing through the process. The quality of our depth was a big factor,” Hamilton said.
Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes each scored 23 points and led the Seminoles during the decisive run as Bacon had seven points and Rathan-Mayes five. Florida State trailed 66-61 before making seven straight shots from the field and forcing Wake to commit four turnovers as it took a 78-66 lead with 4:50 remaining.
“We were able to get out and run and play in the full court set. I think we did a really good job of locking in defensively,” said Rathan-Mayes, who had a season-high in points. “Once we were able to do that it sparked our offense and we were able to go on a little bit of a run.”
Jonathan Isaac added 13 points and CJ Walker had 12 for Florida State (12-1, 1-0), which has won nine straight for the first time since 2003-04 and is off to its best start since going 16-1 in 1988-89.
The Demon Deacons (9-3, 0-1) were looking for their first road win in a conference opener since 2006-07 but couldn’t contend with Florida State’s size. Center Doral Moore suffered a leg injury 2 minutes into the game and did not return and leading scorer John Collins was held to two points.
Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford led Wake with 16 points each.
“We definitely let them off the hook,” Woods said. “We were up by one at halftime, then had a five-point lead (in the second half), and they hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond.”
Wake Forest: If the Demon Deacons are going to be competitive in the conference this season, they can’t have any bad games from Collins. The sophomore forward, who came into the game averaging 17.3 points and 10.4 rebounds, spent most of the second half in foul trouble and was 1 of 3 from the field.
Florida State: Instead of forcing things like they did last season, the Seminoles worked their way back and were able to eventually take control in the second half. Things now get more difficult as five of FSU’s next six opponents are ranked.
A layup by Rathan-Mayes with 15:47 left in the first half made the junior the 46th player in school history to go over 1,000 points for his career. Rathan-Mayes’ father, Tharon, played at FSU from 1988-90 and scored 1,260 points. According to Florida State, this is the first father-son duo in ACC history to both score 1,000 points.
“It feels amazing. When I committed to Florida State I wanted to do something special in honor of my dad,” Rathan-Mayes said. “Just to be in the 1,000-point club, and be the first father-son duo to do that in ACC history it means the world to me.”
Bacon has scored in double figures in 23 straight games, which is the longest current streak in the conference. … After making 16 3-pointers in a win over LSU on Dec. 22, Wake Forest was 10 of 21 from the perimeter. It is the fifth time this season they have had 10 or more 3-pointers. … Florida State made its first seven shots from the line but were 16 of 24 the rest of the game.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host Clemson on Saturday in the first of two meetings between the teams this season.
Florida State: The Seminoles have their first ACC road game on Saturday against No. 12 Virginia. FSU has not defeated a ranked conference foe on the road since 2012.
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